by: Ian Silver Updated:
TULSA, Okla. - Millions of dollars in cash, exotic sports cars, mansions and K2 were all part of a big ring smuggling chemicals out of China used to make the drug.
Two of the 11 people charged in federal court are from Tulsa. Ban Lan and Heather Dao were arrested and appeared in federal court this week. They have since bonded out of jail.
In 2011, Dao opened a spa called La Venus. It was used as a location to hide smuggled chemicals from China.
“We’ve estimated $35 million was made on this case. We seized over $1 million so far in cash. Houses are potentially going to be forfeited in this case,” said Danny Williams, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Williams said this boils down to one of the biggest K2 cases ever in the U.S.
“It’s causing physical harm, psychological harm, and it’s a growing problem. I’m proud of the fact that the federal government is out front,” Williams said.
According to the indictment, Lan and Dao were part of a group of 11 people who worked together to buy chemicals from China used to make K2, a form of synthetic marijuana.
Court documents showed they lied on customs forms about what was in the boxes they had shipped. The forms said they contained chemicals used as food additives and coating agents for things like candy.
Several shipments that Dao had sent to La Venus Spa were labeled as acrylic paint or other cosmetic products.
The group also mislabeled shipping addresses, then had FedEx or DHL correct the address once the package cleared customs.
Ultimately, the chemicals were sent off to make K2, which was sold in convenience stores across the country.
Lan and Dao transferred huge amounts of money among accounts all over the country.
The people involved bought mansions, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other luxury cars. Agents in Tulsa even seized gold and silver bars along with tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
Williams is hoping that by cutting off one route of the K2 supply chain, his office is putting a dent in its use in Oklahoma.
“If you take away the money, you forfeit their houses, the cars, there’s less incentive to continue to sell this,” Williams said.
Lan and Dao could face up to 65 years in prison if convicted of all charges.