A Pekin man faces charges of drug-induced homicide in connection with a man's recent K2-linked death.
Lonnie K. Smith, 46, was charged with drug induced homicide and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in Tazewell County in connection with the death of Anthony Phillips. Smith allegedly sold K2 to Phillips, who later died after using it.
More than 7,000 grams of K2 seized in the case tested positive for FUB-AMB, a controlled substance linked to a mass casualty event in New York City in 2016. The substance is reportedly 85 times more potent than marijuana, the New York Times reports.
An affidavit said Smith admitted to Pekin police that he was selling K2, and led officers to search a dumpster at a Casey's store where he had thrown the 7,000 grams of the drug. The Pekin Police Department said more than 3,500 packets were seized.
Pekin Police Public Information Officer Billie Ingles said the street value of one packet of K2 is around $20. 3,500 packets would be worth around $70,000.
"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," said Tazewell County State's Attorney Stu Umholtz.
Umholtz said the number of K2 deaths is skyrocketing. He also said if there is a demand there will be a market, but the consequences could be fatal.
"K2, whatever you want to call it, the synthetics that are out there are a huge problem in society," said Umholtz.
He went on to say, "Any individual that traffics this type of substance needs to remember it's strict criminal responsibility. If someone dies, you're on the hook."
Lonnie Smith's neighbor, Katoyn Picco, said she saw people coming and going from Smith's home.
"They all just look like friends. They just hang out and stuff," stated Picco.
Umholtz thinks there could be a solution to the problem.
"It's going to require the collaboration of both local, state and federal law enforcement and we are already seeing that collaboration," said Umholtz.
The Pekin Police Department said Rachel Spires, 30 and Richard Booth, 26, both of Pekin were also arrested in connection with the case for aggravated battery and delivery or possession with intent to deliver. Both Spires and Booth allegedly sold synthetic cannabinoids that caused severe bleeding to numerous people.
The most recent numbers from the Illinois Department of Public Health show Tazewell County leading the state in synthetic cannabinoid-linked severe bleeding reports, with 42 as of April 12. Peoria County has seen 30 cases, while Chicago has seen 31 cases since March 7.
Smith's bond was set at $100,000 in Tazewell County Court Friday. The range of sentencing is six to 30 years. Seventy-five percent of the sentence would have to be served.
Booth's bond was set at $75,000, and Spires' at $25,000. All bonds are 10 percent to apply.