NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Hampton man pleaded guilty Monday to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues.
Court documents say that from 2008 to 2014, 31-year-old Jayson Mickle sold smokable synthetic cannabinoids, known as “spice,” throughout the Hampton Roads area and eventually, nationwide.
Spice consists of plant material sprayed with active chemical ingredients often made in clandestine laboratories in China. The chemicals mimic the effects of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Prosecutors say Mickle sold blends of spice with names like “Hampster Purp,” “HPT Cherry,” “Bizarro” and “Orgazmo.” Although the packets of spice had labels that said “not for human consumption,” Mickle knew the spice was to be smoked.
Mickle began selling spice through retail stores by the name of Hampton Pipe and Tobacco. He had locations in Hampton, Newport News, Gloucester and Norfolk. In 2010, Mickle also began a wholesale online operation called “Blazin Herbs.” In 2013, the wholesale outfit’s name was changed to “7 City Gifts.”
At times, Mickle was supplied by “Zencense,” a large-scale spice producer and wholesaler based in Florida. Between January 2012 and April 2013, Mickle’s spice operation bought more than 1,000 kilograms of spice for resale from Zencense.
Mickle’s operation also supplied the Red Barn, a Newport News convenience store, with spice in late 2013 into early 2014.
From 2010 to 2012 alone, Hampton Pipe and Tobacco grossed over $9,600,000 in spice sales. On average, Mickle’s retail store would sell spice by the gram for about $8 a gram.
Mickle was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2016. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on October 13.