Police seize deadly fake pot, three arrested in Pekin man’s death

By Holly Eitenmiller For Chronicle Media

Police confiscated more than 3,500 packets of synthetic cannabis, K2, from the Pekin home of Lonnie K. Smith following his arrest April 11 arrest. Rachel Spires and Richard Booth were later arrested in connection to the case. According to Pekin Police Public Information Officer Billie Ingles, each packet is worth around $20 each. (Photo courtesy Pekin Police Department)

In less than three days, police from various local and regional agencies have arrested three people and confiscated more than 7,500 grams of synthetic cannabis in connection to the death of one man and the hemorrhaging of several others.

Lonnie K. Smith, 46, of 2028 Westgate Drive was arrested April 11 and charged with drug induced homicide and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

The homicide charge stems from the April 9 death of Anthony N. Phillips, 46, of Pekin, who died of intracranial hemorrhaging after smoking synthetic cannabis that was allegedly bought from Smith.

According to court documents, Smith is also accused of providing K2 to a roommate who suffered from bloody urine and mouth sours after ingesting it.

On Thursday, Rachel R. Spires, 30, and Richard I. Booth, 26, were taken into custody on charges of aggravated battery and delivery or possession with intent to deliver. Booth and Spires allegedly sold synthetic cannabis that allegedly caused severe hemorrhaging in several users.

Lonnie K. Smith, 46, of Pekin (Photo courtesy Pekin Police Department)

According to an affidavit, police confiscated more than 3,500 packets of synthetic cannabis after Smith led officers to a dumpster at a local Casey’s General Store where he had tossed it. Pekin Police Public Information Officer Billie Ingles said a single packet of synthetic cannabis sells for around $20, and, according to a probable cause statement from the Tazewell County State’s Attorney’s office, Smith sold the packets knowing they were sprayed with FUB-AMB.

FUB-AMB is a synthetic cannabinoid spray that is applied to dried plants and sold as synthetic cannabis, and is illegal in Illinois.

FUB-AMB is among a number of synthetic cannabinoid sprays that are circulating around Illinois and is prompting serious public warnings from health and law enforcement officials.

Rachel Spires, 30, of Pekin (Photo courtesy of Tazewell County Sheriff’s Dept.)

Since March 7, The Illinois Department of Public Health has received reports of 126 cases of synthetic cannabis use that has resulted in severe bleeding, three of which lead to death.

As of April 13, Tazewell County lead the state with 43 cases. Chicago is second with 33 cases, and Peoria follows with 31.

Synthetic cannabis seized in Smith’s arrest tested positive for FUB-AMB. On April 7, Smith allegedly delivered the product on Phillips, who was pronounced dead two days later at a Peoria hospital.

According to Pekin police officials, the arrests are a result of “an in-depth investigation, with the help of multiple agencies”, including the Peoria MEG Unit, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Illinois State Police Department and several county police departments. The investigation remains ongoing.

Richard Booth, 26, of Pekin (Photo courtesy of Tazewell County Sheriff’s Dept.)

All three individuals appeared in Tazewell County court Friday afternoon April 13. Booth’s bond was set at $75,000, and Spires’ was set at $25,000. Smith’s bond was set at $100,000 and he faces a range of sentencing from six to 30 years. Smith must serve seventy-five percent of his sentence.



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