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Iowa man convicted for conspiracy involving synthetic drugs

CEDAR RAPIDS – A man who wholesale distributed synthetic drugs commonly known as “K2” and “bath salts” was convicted by a jury after a 3-day trial in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Muhammad Anwar, age 49, from West Des Moines, Iowa, was convicted of conspiring to distribute controlled substances and conspiring to launder drug money. The verdict was returned yesterday afternoon following approximately 8 hours of jury deliberations.

Evidence at trial showed that Anwar served as a wholesale distributor of the illegal substances and that, for a period nearly two years, members of the conspiracy were purchasing between $100,000 and $1,000,000 per month from the illegal products’ manufacturers. The products involved in the conspiracy were sold across Iowa, including to stores in Waterloo, Cambridge, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines.

The K2 products contained two synthetic cannabinoids, XLR-11 and AB-FUBINACA, with effects similar to THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, but they were marketed as potpourri or incense. The products were also given highly suggestible trade names, such as “Mr. Nice Guy,” “Mr. Happy,” “Mind Trip,” “Diablo,” “Scooby Snax,” “Hydro,” “Lol,” and “777.” The bath salt products included pentedrone, a synthetic cathinone, which is a stimulant similar to methamphetamine or cocaine. The bath salts were marketed as having cleaning properties but were sold in small jars containing less than half a gram of powder.

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge John A. Jarvey will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Anwar was taken into custody by the United States Marshal after the verdicts were read and will remain in custody pending sentencing. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, $1,500,000 in fines, $200 in special assessments, and a lifetime of supervised release following any imprisonment.


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