Police seized over 7,000 grams of synthetic cannabis, above, from an Illinois man charged with selling tainted drugs that killed at least one person. Image: Pekin Police Department
Illinois police have made the first arrests in connection to an ongoing outbreak of synthetic cannabinoid products responsible for hundreds of severe bleeding cases and at least three deaths. One person, who allegedly distributed the drugs, has been charged with homicide.
Late last week, Pekin Police Department officials in Tazewell County, Illinois, announced they had arrested and charged 46-year-old Lonnie K. Smith with the drug-induced homicide of 47-year-old Anthony Phillips, as well as the unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Two other individuals—Rachel Spires, 30, and Richard Booth, 26—were also arrested and charged with aggravated battery and delivery or possession with intent to deliver.
All three appeared in Tazwell County Court Friday and had their bonds set.
“The distribution of these illegal drugs represent an unacceptable risk to public safety, and dealers must be held criminally responsible for their conduct. I wish to recognize the swift and effective investigation by the Pekin Police Department,” Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stu Umholtz told NBC affiliate 25 News.
Prosecutors allege that Smith sold synthetic cannabinoids to both Anthony Phillips and his girlfriend on April 7. In the middle of the morning the next day, Phillips woke up vomiting blood and felt severe stomach pain, while his girlfriend also experienced symptoms. Both were hospitalized, and Phillips died on April 9. Prosecutors said the woman told Pekin police that Smith was Phillips’ regular dealer.
When police visited Smith,