Louisiana synthetic pot ring tied to Fayette County teen’s death

Twelve people have been indicted on Louisiana racketeering charges linking an alleged synthetic marijuana distribution ring to the death last March of a popular Fayetteville teen.

Chase Burnett’s death was one of three in Georgia last year attributed to the now-illegal designer drug, commonly known as K2 or Spice. The 16-year-old McIntosh High School sophomore drowned in his parent’s hot tub after smoking Mojo Diamond Extreme 100X Potpourri. The product was purchased at a Peachtree City convenience store that, according to the indictment handed down by a Jefferson Parish grand jury, originated in Louisiana.

Harold Bourgeois III, 27, and Cang Ngyuen, 32, were partners in companies that prosecutors allege purchased substances to make the drugs, using fake invoices to ship the product from China to United States. Ten other co-conspirators are named in the indictment, which accuses them of violating Louisiana’s racketeering act. They are not accused of murder.

“It’s significance will come in sentencing,” said Kristofer Schleicher, the attorney for Chase’s father, David Burnett. “It will give the jury a chance to consider the consequences of this violation of the law.”

Schleicher said he shared evidence with prosecutors that he came across while preparing a wrongful death suit filed by Chase’s parents against Peyton Palaio, an alleged metro Atlanta distributor.

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Palaio’s attorney, Andrew Koplan, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution his client has no connection to the Louisiana cartel or to the Mojo Diamond Extreme.

“The allegations against Peyton Palaio are made up,” Koplan said.

Last July, GBI agents executed search warrants on two labs and a distribution company, which share addresses in Atlanta and Marietta, owned by Palaio. The search was part of the agency’s “continuing effort to address the synthetic cannabinoid problem in Georgia at the direction of Governor Deal,” said GBI spokesman John Bankhead.

“If they had found anything to connect (Palaio) to Chase Burnett’s death, you can bet they would’ve charged him,” Koplan said.

David Burnett said he won’t rest until everyone associated with manufacturing and distributing the drug that killed his son are held accountable..

The Louisiana indictment is “just the beginning,” he said. “We’re just scratching the surface.”

Burnett has been vocal about seeking justice for his son, whose death sent shock waves through the halls of McIntosh High. On the Monday following the junior varsity soccer player’s death, classmates honored the teen by remaining silent through their lunch period.

“I think Chase is proud of what we’re doing,” his father said.

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