Pastor Who Used Churchgoers To Push Synthetic Pot Receives Sentence

By Britni de la Cretaz 04/19/17

The pastor sold more than 500,000 retail-ready packages of spice from April 2011 to October 2013.

A synthetic marijuana bust from New York in 2016.
A synthetic marijuana bust from New York in 2016. Photo via YouTube

Robert Jaynes Jr., a fundamentalist pastor in Indianapolis, Indiana, pled guilty to two charges involving manufacturing and mislabeling synthetic drugs. The 46-year-old was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in prison, and 22 other people will be charged as part of the conspiracy. In total, there were over 10 tons of synthetic marijuana known as “spice” attributed to Jaynes.

“The quantity here is staggering,” said Judge Rodney W. Sippel, according to the IndyStar, “so that means the number of people who could come tell us that story is incomprehensible.”

“Spice,” also known as K2, has been hard for officials to regulate due to the fact that it doesn’t show up in drug tests because the chemical composition of it is constantly changing. It’s meant to mimic the effects of marijuana, but many people exhibit bizarre behavior while on the drug, including hallucinations, paranoia, and aggressive behavior. Not only that, there can be potentially life-threatening symptoms like stroke, kidney failure and irregular heartbeat. It’s hard to know how many people each year suffer from overdose or poisoning as a result of the substance.

In Brooklyn, New York last year, 33 people were suspected of overdosing on the substance in a single day. And after several rashes of overdoses on Skid Row, California has banned the substance.

Pastor Jaynes sold more than 500,000 packages of spice from April 2011 to October 2013. It’s estimated that over a nine-month period, Jaynes grossed $2.6 million in sales.

However, it’s hard to know exactly what his income was. In his drug-manufacturing operation, Jaynes put family members, including his mother, at risk, as well as church members. Judge Sippel said Jaynes had to account for entangling his church members in the conspiracy. They were “people who were going to listen to you and follow you and believe in you and what you were teaching,” said Judge Sippel.

Jaynes also ensnarled two members of his congregation named Jason and Teresa Woods, a married couple who were employed as Hendricks County Sheriff’s deputies, in his operation. “If anybody got in trouble, that’s who they were supposed to call, if they got stopped by law enforcement,” an IRS investigator said, according to the IndyStar. When the operation was moved from one location to another, it was Jason Woods who provided an escort so they wouldn’t be stopped along the way. 

“He was out of uniform, but showed up in his squad car,” the investigator said. “He met the truck down the street and followed it on two different occasions that day as an escort behind the vehicle to protect it, so nobody could ... pull the vehicle over during the transportation of all the synthetic drug products in the back of the vehicle.” The Woods’ have been fired from their jobs in law enforcement as a result of their involvement in the drug manufacturing ring.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.