Following up on the story in our winter issue, “Up in Synthetic Smoke”, lodge owner Jerry Shults and his daughter/lodge manager, Amy Herrig, have been federally indicted for their alleged involvement in a “massive synthetic-drug distribution conspiracy.”
Shults owns Rapids Camp Lodge in Alaska’s Katmai-Naknek region, in addition to flyfishing operations in Canada, Chile, Mexico, and the Bahamas. But it’s his Texas- and New Mexico-based head shop chain, Gas Pipe Inc., that’s been the subject of scrutiny since last June’s federal K2 crackdown, which resulted in employee arrests and seized assets. According to this month’s indictment, Shults, Herrig, and associates sold millions of dollars worth of synthetic marijuana, aka spice. The father and daughter are two of 32 defendants in the case. Six were indicted last year and have pleaded guilty.
Federal prosecutors say Shults and Herrig “maintained several locations in Arlington, Garland, Fort Worth and Dallas for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing substances containing synthetic cannabinoids…. As part of the conspiracy, the defendants purchased, possessed, packaged, labeled, marketed, distributed and sold substances containing synthetic cannabinoids,” a news release said. The Drug Enforcement Administration says synthetic cannabinoids are engineered to produce highs similar to THC, the main psychoactive component in pot. “Synthetic cannabinoids are being abused for their psychoactive actions and present serious public health and safety concerns.”
The indictment includes forfeiture notices that require some of the defendants, upon conviction, to fork over proceeds of their alleged criminal activity to the government, as well as real estate located in Arlington, Clifton, Dallas, Austin, Garland, Fort Worth, and Highland Park; several parcels of real estate in Alaska; five aircraft; a fishing boat; and more than $16.2 million in funds that the government has already seized.
Shults’ attorney, George R. Milner, said that “the Gas Pipe is fully prepared to fight these allegations and fully demonstrate it has done nothing illegal.”
Offenses carry maximum sentences of five to 40 years for each count and additional fines up to $2 million.