Trial Begins for Evansdale Woman Accused of Selling Synthetic Drugs

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

A prosecutor said Monday that Mary Ramos knowingly sold synthetic drugs out of the business she managed and on the street.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Chatham in his opening statement said Ramos, 52, of Evansdale, sold undercover officers last year “Mr. Nice Guy,” which is synthetic marijuana and an illegal controlled substance. She sold the package for $25 and gave the officers a receipt. She also asked the officers if they needed rolling papers, which are used to smoke the synthetic products.

“Being naive isn’t a crime,” said Mike Lahammer, Ramos’ attorney, in his opening statement.

Lahammer said Ramos’ job was to manage the store and to sell the items from the store. Ramos worked for her daughter’s father-in-law. Ramos also sold other items at the store such as Avon, Sensy and even Tupperware.

Lahammer said Ramos knew one of the products they sold was “Blue,” and she knew it was a cleaner, but she didn’t know people smoked it.

Ramos is charged with distribution of a controlled substance XLR-11, distribution of a controlled substance analogue Alpha-PVP, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance XLR-11, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance analogue Alpha-PVP and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, according to a criminal complaint.

Ramos, who managed an I-Wireless and Five Star Snacks store, 1551 First Ave SE, in Cedar Rapids, is accused of knowingly distributing and possessing XLR11, commonly known synthetic marijuana or K2, according to a criminal complaint. The incidents occurred May 28, June 19 and June 26, 2013.

The trial is expected to last all week.

Chatham also said there will be evidence presented this week of Ramos selling the illegal products out of her car — meeting customers outside of work hours.

Chatham said authorities conducted a search of Ramos’ car and found “Blue,” a 9 mm gun and ammunition.

Chatham said the key to this case is whether Ramos knew she was selling drugs or if she thought the items were only incense or potpourri. He said there will be evidence showing the items had certain packaging and cost associated with synthetic drugs.

Lahammer said Ramos was a salesperson and would meet her customers outside of work and sell them Avon and other products.

“The firearm in her van was unloaded and in a case,” Lahammer said. “She has a carry permit and the gun had nothing to do with incense or bath salts sold.”

On Monday, two Drug Enforcement Administration task force members testified about synthetic drugs and how they are commonly displayed.

A “Mr. Nice Guy” package was displayed for the jurors. It was in a mylar or aluminum foil zipper package and had a smiley face on it.

Bryan Furman, a Cedar Rapids police officer with the DEA, explained during testimony that the synthetic drugs look similar to marijuana. The plant material isn’t the drug, but the drug is sprayed on the products.

The bath salts are a synthetic cathinone, which is a stimulant similar in amphetamines and are usually snorted or injected, Furman said. Many times they are labeled as jewelry cleaner, plant foods or scouring powder.

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