SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Man Sentenced in Alaska’s First Federal Felony Spice Trafficking Case


September 10, 2017
Sunday AM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - Philip Drake Kneeland, 34, d/b/a Tobacco Distress, Inc., at mile 91.5 of the Sterling Highway in Soldotna, Alaska, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for distributing Spice and possessing a firearm in furtherance of Spice trafficking. 

Quoting a news release from Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder, in addition to his prison sentence, Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess ordered Kneeland to forfeit to the United States approximately $75,400.00, a 2014 GMC truck, and 4 firearms. The Spice distributed by Kneeland contained “cannibimimetic agents,” including compounds JWH-18 and JWH-073, in violation of federal controlled substances law.

Judge Burgess also ordered that Kneeland perform 200 hours of community service upon his release from prison, because Kneeland’s sales triggered an epidemic of Spice-related law enforcement responses on the Kenai Peninsula, including emergency room visits, suspected suicides and DUIs, severely impacting the community.

The Court heard testimony from a local resident and local law enforcement that the Spice epidemic on the Kenai Peninsula has essentially disappeared since Kneeland’s arrest. 

Kneeland pled guilty on March 6, 2017, to possession of synthetic cannabimimetic agents with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, stemming from a search of Tobacco Distress on Oct. 31, 2015. 

As widely reported in the summer of 2015, Anchorage experienced an explosion of Spice overdose emergency calls which strained first responders and claimed many victims. In the fall of 2015, Kenai Peninsula residents openly protested Kneeland’s Spice sales outside the Tobacco Distress premises, carrying signs saying “SPICE KILLS.” 

As explained by the Indictment in the case, “Spice” is a generic term for smokeable synthetic cannibinoids, which are manufactured by dissolving psychotropic drugs, compounds such as JWH-18 and JWH-073, in acetone and spraying it on plant material.

Acting U.S. Attorney Schroder complimented the investigation of the case, which was conducted by DEA, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Kenai Police Department, and the Alaska State Troopers Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit based on the Kenai Peninsula.


Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews



Source of News:

U.S. Department of Justice - District of Alaska



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