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Roseville man sentenced in $6.6 million synthetic marijuana distribution conspiracy

A federal court in Missouri has sentenced a Roseville man to eight years in prison without parole for his role in a conspiracy to distribute more than $6.6 million worth of synthetic cannabinoids, known as K2, to businesses in that state.

Raja Amer Nawaz, 43, also known as "Rex," pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which was related to distribution of the synthetic cannabinoids, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Jefferson, Mo. Nawaz is one of 13 defendants who pleaded guilty in the case. He was sentenced Feb. 21.

Nawaz and other co-defendants from California sold synthetic cannabinoids to several businesses in Calloway County, Mo. One of the owners of the businesses admitted that he and other co-conspirators received at least 251 shipments, primarily form Nawaz, in an operation that generated $6,656,843, according to the news release. Nawaz received at least $2,919,407 in payment.

The Missouri businesses posed as pawn shops, aromatherapy shops, a tobacco store and a "buy, sell and trade" operation. They purchased the synthetic cannabinoids from 2013 to 2015. The K2 was shipped via FedEx and UPS in packages bearing labels that misidentified the contents as "incense," "aroma therapy" or "potpourri" that were "not for human consumption," the news release said.

Three other Sacramento-area co-defendants in the case were also sentenced in separate hearings Feb. 21.

Nawaz's wife, Sheila Marie Nawaz, 40, of Rosevile, pleaded guilty to participating in the money laundering conspiracy and was sentenced to one year of probation.

Michael James Butler, 41, of Sacramento pleaded guilty in the mail fraud and money laundering conspiracies and was sentenced to six months in prison, as was Curtis Whayne Gonzales, 57, also of Sacramento, who pleaded guilty to participating in the money laundering conspiracy.

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