Leader of Methylone Trafficking Ring Pleads Guilty
Methylone, Known as Bath Salts, Scheduled Since October 2011
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 11, 2012|
ALEXANDRIA, VA—Matthew Scott Baker, 19, of Fairfax, Virginia, has pled guilty to leading a methylone trafficking ring that purchased multi-kilogram amounts of the illegal narcotic from China and distributed it throughout northern Virginia. He is the last of eight charged in the case to plead guilty.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Colonel David Rohrer, Fairfax County Chief of Police, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Liam O’Grady.
Baker was indicted on July 3, 2012, by a federal grand jury and pled guilty on October 10, 2012, to conspiring to distribute methylone and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison on the drug charge and a minimum of five years up to life in prison on the firearm charge when he is sentenced on January 25, 2013. The penalty for the firearm charge would run consecutive to any penalty imposed on the drug charge.
Methylone is an analogue of ecstasy that has been a scheduled drug since October 21, 2011. The narcotic is often sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant food” and marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” or “Bliss.” According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the narcotic has been increasingly popular—particularly among teens and young adults—and, along with ecstasy, mimics the effects of cocaine, LSD, and/or methamphetamine.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Baker admitted to ordering multi-kilogram amounts of methylone from a source located in China. Baker was introduced to this source by one of his co-defendants, Joshua Clougherty. The Chinese source then shipped boxes of methylone to Baker’s post office box over several months from the summer of 2011 through May 2012. Once Baker obtained quantities of methylone from China, he then distributed the drug to his co-conspirators for resale to customers in the northern Virginia area. Baker also sold methylone on several occasions to an undercover officer during the winter and spring of 2012 until the time of his arrest in May 2012.
Baker admitted to law enforcement agents that he had obtained approximately 20 shipments of methylone totaling approximately 10 to 15 kilograms over the course of the conspiracy. In addition, as part of his plea agreement, Baker agreed to forfeit a money judgment in the amount of $400,000, representing proceeds he obtained from the sale of methylone. Baker also admitted that he sought to purchase a Glock pistol from the same undercover officer to whom he was selling methylone.
The following seven other co-defendants have also pled guilty to conspiring to distribute methylone: Clougherty, Skander Bouchair, Kyle Griswold, Shelby Neal, Sajad Safdari, Patrick Un, and Ethan Walker.
This case was investigated by FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Fairfax County Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Eriksen is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.