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Killing with Chemistry

The news report referred to the man over in Grand Forks as a “hobby chemist”. What exactly was his hobby? He created synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, which, though not entirely illegal yet, took the lives of two teens and led to several overdoses in the Fargo area. 18-year-old Christian Bjerk and 17-year-old Elijah Stai died within days of each other in June 2012 after they swallowed the hallucinogenic materials they had purchased. Stai had taken the powder and mixed it with melted chocolate and then eaten it like candy. Others were hospitalized in intensive care for quite a few days.

The hobbyist is named Charles Carlton and at 28 years old, this Texan is now known as the leader of a conspiracy to import substances from Asia and Europe that are on the controlled substance list. He then re-sells them to Americans. This brings up an interesting question regarding what types of laws all of these countries have regarding such chemicals and purchases. He bought his supplies from China, the U.K, Austria, Poland, Greece, Spain, and Canada. He had them mailed to several different addresses in the hopes of avoiding suspicion.

One of the people who bought Carlton’s wares was a man named Andrew Spofford. Spofford has now been charged in regards to the deaths of the two teens. Spofford was charged in December 2012 after having pleaded guilty back in October of “conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death.” He also pleaded guilty to selling cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy. In addition, two men from Mississippi and one from Houston are facing similar charges. They are also accused of conspiracy to introduce a misbranded drug into interstate commerce.

Carlton has apparently made quite a few sales through his hobby. Authorities have demanded that he deliver to them more than $385,000 in alleged drug sale proceeds. One can hope that law enforcement officials will be able to keep this young hobbyist off of the streets so that he will not be able to spread tragedy any further than he already has.


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