Brothers Indicted in Prison Drug Smuggling Scheme
FRESNO, CA—James Steven Harris, aka Steve Harris, 44, of Loma Linda, was arraigned today in Fresno, charged with scheming to smuggle synthetic cannabinoids into prison, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to the eight-count indictment, Steve Harris conspired with others to provide, and did on two occasions attempt to smuggle, smokable synthetic cannabinoids into the Taft Correctional Institution when he went to visit his brother. Tracy McArthur Harris, aka Trey Harris, 41, was an inmate at the Taft Correctional Institution, and is alleged to have conspired to obtain and attempt to obtain the drugs from Steve Harris.
Synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as “spice” or “K2,” refer to a family of substances that act on the brain in a manner similar to delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the effects of synthetic cannabinoid usage can be life-threatening and can include: severe agitation and anxiety; fast, racing heartbeat; nausea and vomiting; muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors; psychotic episodes; and suicidal and thoughts or actions.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and Taft Correctional Institution Investigations Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.
Both defendants are in custody and are scheduled to appear for a status conference on October 27, 2014. If convicted, Steve Harris faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for attempting to distribute a controlled substance, five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy, and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for attempting to provide contraband in prison. Trey Harris faces a maximum prison sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiring to obtain contraband in prison and 10 years in prison and $250,000 for attempting to obtain contraband in prison. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.