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New Mexico couple indicted on “spice” trafficking and money laundering

RATON — Former residents of Kingman, AZ have been indicted, in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, NM, on federal spice trafficking and money laundering following a grand jury investigation. Ray Smith, 50, and Tamara Phillips, 47 have been charged in the four-count indictment, issued on Feb. 9, 2016. The couple were arrested in Kingman, on Feb. 18. They made their first appearance on Feb. 19 at Federal Court in Flagstaff, AZ. U.S. Marshals were ordered to transfer Smith and Phillips to New Mexico to face charges against them there. The couple will remain in Federal custody while awaiting detention hearings that will be scheduled after they return to New Mexico. The indictment alleges Smith and Phillips participated in a conspiracy to distribute synthetic cannabinoids — known as spice — maintaining businesses for the purpose of distributing spice, and participating in a conspiracy to launder drug proceeds. The investigation covers a six-year period from February 2010 to February 2016, when the couple owned and managed three businesses in New Mexico and Arizona. The businesses were known as “Smokin Body Jewelry” and were located in Las Vegas, Raton, and Kingman. The indictment also states that employees of all

three stores sold spice to customers while acting at the direction of Smith and Phillips. The indictment includes information about two alleged drug transactions that occurred on Sept. 29, 2015: the first involved the sale of $1,687.46 of spice by an employee at the Raton store, and the second involved the sale of $1,556.91 of spice sold by an employee at the Las Vegas store. The indictment is the result of a year-long investigation led by the DEA’s offices in Albuquerque, and Flagstaff, Lake Havasu and Yuma, AZ, with assistance from the Raton Police Department and the Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team. During the course of the investigation, approximately one pound of spice was allegedly purchased from businesses operated by Smith and Phillips and approximately 22 kilograms (48 pounds) of spice was seized from a storage facility allegedly rented by Smith and Phillips. Included in the indictment are forfeiture allegations seeking to forfeit property and other assets that make up the proceeds of the drug trafficking offenses charged in the indictment or were used to facilitate those crimes including eight parcels of real property located in New Mexico and Arizona, funds in 18 bank accounts, a safety deposit box, and three vehicles. The total estimated value of the real property, currency and other assets seized on Feb. 18, 2016, exceeds $2.3 million. This includes approximately $220,000 in cash. The agents and officers also seized approximately 11 kilograms (24.2 pounds) of precursor chemicals allegedly shipped from China. This was found in the primary residence of Smith and Phillips. In addition, approximately 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of suspected spice with a street value of $250,000 was seized from the stores and the residence of Smith and Phillips. If convicted on the charges in the indictment, Smith and Phillips each face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.