Federal officials announce biggest spice bust in NH history
CONCORD - A joint federal, state and local crackdown led to shutting down a massive spice distribution ring.
Federal officials seized more than a ton of spice that was manufactured inside a barn in Epping.
U.S. Attorney John Kacavas confirmed this was the largest such seizure in New Hampshire history and the 12th-biggest ever in the United States.
"Our message to the public is this is being marketed as a safe alternative to marijuana, and it most assuredly is not,'' Kacavas said. "The youths of our state are playing Russian roulette when they put this into their bodies."
Mike Ferguson, special agent in charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the bust makes a real dent on the overt sale of spice in commercial stores driving the business into the black market.
"There is a whole lot less openly sold as a result of this, but it is still out there and available so we have to be diligent,'' Ferguson said.
The ringleader, Kyle Hurley, 32, has pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to contribute controlled drugs. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced July 14.
Another cohort in the scheme, Robert Costello, 71, has pled guilty to two charges relating to drug trafficking across state lines. He could be sentenced for up to 10 years on May 27.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration led the probe that was 14 months in the making.
Posing undercover, federal agents first bought quantities of products at convenience stores in Hooksett and Londonderry and then were introduced to Costello who was selling the substances to convenience stores.
After a smaller buy from Costello, the agents then arranged to buy 2,400 pounds of spice from Hurley which led to the arrests, just over a year ago on March 28, 2014.