A married couple from Vero Beach has pleaded guilty to trying to import bath salts and other designer drugs from China, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Julius Andrew Reason III, 32, and Venteria Leanet Reason, 28, face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release when they are U.S. District Court Judge Robin L. Rosenberg sentences them Dec. 8.
Also to be sentenced that day is Nathasha Thames, 28, of Vero Beach, a co-defendent who pleaded guilty in March.
Bath salts have drawn attention in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast following two August incidents in which their use is suspected. Authorities say their use can lead to nightmarish visions, unusual bouts of strength and rampant paranoia.
The FBI is testing whether Austin Harrouff of Jupiter was under their influence when he stabbed two Martin County residents to death Aug. 15.
Nico Gallo of Stuart “cannonballed” through a plate glass window of his Stuart neighbor at 2 a.m. Aug. 28 and fought the residents from one end of the home to the other.
In January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspected a box shipped from Shanghai to a Post Office box in Vero Beach rented by the Reasons. It contained about 1 kilogram of Dibutylone HCI, a synthetic cathinone commonly referred to as bath salts.
Federal law considers bath salts a schedule I controlled substance, meaning they have no current accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
Julius Reason contacted the Vero Beach Post Office on Jan. 14, asking if it had received two parcels, He was told they were ready the next day. Thames then got the parcels at the post office before meeting Reason and giving them to him, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. When Reason saw police approach him, he fled from the scene, throwing both parcels.
Authorities seized a loaded 9mm firearm from Julius Reason’s vehicle during their investigation, as well as electronic devices, wire transfer records, Chinese chemical company business cards, and $10,168 in U.S. currency.
The probe found that the Reasons between June 2014 and January 2016 sent wire transfers to China exceeding $59,000. They and Thames spoke with Chinese chemical company representatives discussing prices and ordering synthetic cathinones. The defendants also texted about the the local delivery and sales of the controlled substance MDMA, commonly referred to as “molly.”
Between June 2014 and January 2016, at least 20 parcels were shipped from China to U.S. P.O. Boxes and addresses linked to the Reasons in southern Florida. Authorities seized five of the parcels, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.