CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 34-year-old Corpus Christi
resident has admitted he possessed with intent to distribute synthetic
cannabinoids and a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, announced U.S.
Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
On Feb. 27, 2017, Andrew Hernandez was arrested at a local
restaurant in Corpus Christi for an outstanding felony warrant. As he was taken
into custody, officers removed a loaded .380 caliber handgun from his pocket.
As a previously convicted felon, Hernandez, is prohibited from possessing
firearms and ammunition per federal law. At the time of arrest, officers also
discovered several thousand dollars in U.S. currency and 72 packets of
synthetic cannabinoids. Laboratory analysis confirmed the presence of FUB-AMB,
which is controlled under the Controlled Substance Analog Act.
Synthetic cannabinoids are chemical compounds that mimic the
psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. These chemical compounds can be applied
to carrier mediums such as plant material and ingested using rolling papers,
pipes, vaporizers or otherwise taken orally. Synthetic cannabinoids are usually
sold in small, foil or plastic bags containing dried leaves (resembling
potpourri) and is marketed as incense that can be smoked. It is commonly
sold and known on the street as synthetic marijuana, fake weed, legal and by
its popular brand names such as Spice, K2, Kush, Klimaxx, Mr. Nice Guy,
Pot-Pourri, Cloud 9, Geeked Out and many others.
Senior U.S. District Judge John Rainey accepted the plea
today and set sentencing for May 14, 2018. At that time, Hernandez faces up to
20 years and a possible $1 million fine for the synthetic drug conviction as
well as a minimum of five years and up to life for the illegal possession of a
firearm which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
The Corpus Christi Police Department and the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt is prosecuting the case.