GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A man convicted in Gulfport for distributing spice across the country was just sentenced to serve 120 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine, $121,425 in restitution and a $600 special service fee.
Rasheed Ali Muhammad, 42, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and five counts of sell, distribute or dispense a controlled substance.
"There is no question the number of people being harmed by synthetic marijuana is also growing rapidly. Today, a very strong message was sent to synthetic drug traffickers: It's a drug, a very bad drug, and if you choose to sell spice, you will go to jail for a long time," said DEA Jackson District Office Assistant Special Agent in Charge Danny Comeaux. "Anytime you put an uncontrolled or unregulated drug or drug with unknown effects into your body, you are taking a risk. Synthetic drugs and herbal drug products like spice are not manufactured in a controlled environment, and thus, you are playing Russian roulette when it comes to these types of products."
The Drug Enforcement Administration in Gulfport tracked some of the spice being sold in South Mississippi to Muhammad more than two years ago and opened an investigation.
Muhammad was living in Connecticut. According to court testimony, agents found several websites and email addresses he used to get chemicals shipped from China, make spice and distribute it nationally.
One email found from Muhammad mentioned the effect spice would have on the human body and compared the drug he was making to ecstasy. The DEA also said Muhammad taught his cousin how to take over the business and continue making spice after he was arrested.
Muhammad took the stand Monday in his defense, trying to decipher what he did and didn't do in hopes of getting a lesser sentence from the judge. He did admit to making spice but he said, "I would find out what is legal, what is not and stay ahead of it."
The prosecution, however, told the judge one of the chemicals Muhammad was using to make spice was made an illegal drug in 2011, and he continued using it after it became illegal.
One of Muhammad's alleged employees in the business, Rosyln Chapman, is serving a 16 and a half year sentence for her role in the drug distribution ring.