Breaking Bad: Digital Drug Sales, Analog Drug Deaths

The feds and a prosecutor say a Houston company selling synthetic drugs on the Internet is responsible for the deaths of teenagers in Minnesota and North Dakota.

The real threat, on paper anyway, is Carlton and 25-year-old Polinski, who took care of Motion Research's IT needs. At the time Polinski accepted the job offer, according to his girlfriend, Derien Mattingly, he was living out of Mattingly's car. He had served four days for a 2009 theft conviction and five days in 2011 after pleading no contest to possession of muscle relaxers for which he had no prescription.

Over the previous few years, Polinski had worked a series of mostly retail jobs, but after a recent layoff, he was unable to contribute his share of the rent, and he and Mattingly were evicted. This led to a breakup. Mattingly moved in with her mother, and, not wanting to put Polinski out on the street, she let him borrow her car so he could look for work and have a place to sleep. They have since reconciled.

"John's pretty much been on his own since he was 16 — family-wise, at least," Mattingly says. "He's got...really strong friends and adopted family."

Christian Bjerk, 18, of North Dakota, died after ingesting drugs originally purchased from Motion Research.
Christian Bjerk, 18, of North Dakota, died after ingesting drugs originally purchased from Motion Research.
Charles Carlton appears to have written under the name "Sandman" about his company's drugs on online forums.
Charles Carlton appears to have written under the name "Sandman" about his company's drugs on online forums.

Mattingly says Polinski met Carlton through a mutual acquaintance, and Polinski jumped at the chance to get a job. She says Carlton let him crash on his couch until he found a place of his own.

Polinski's ex-wife, Bonnie Hensel — with whom he remains on good terms — echoed Mattingly's explanation of how Polinski came to work for Motion Research in the first place. Hensel wrote in an e-mail, "Charles Carlton needed some work done on his company's Web site and offered John the job. John was excited to be offered a job doing what he really wanted to do, and saw it as a good opportunity to gain experience since he doesn't have much official training in Web design. He then started working for [Motion Research]. The company was a legitimately operating LLC based out of an office building in Houston, TX...I know he was receiving a weekly salary with a real paycheck, with taxes taken out and everything. I don't see how anyone could allege that he was receiving profits from any kind of drug money or taking part in some kind of illegal operation, at least that he could reasonably discern."

She adds: "I know that John had no idea about any kind of drugs, or could suspect the company was involved in anything illegal, because I don't think he would have knowingly took such a risk with something he was counting on as a stepping stone to a bigger career. The only things he always talked about regarding work was the fact he was learning a lot of new Web design skills and would hopefully get a reference for a better paying job. He was just trying to further his career in Web design; he didn't own any part of the company, and the company was started long before he was hired to work on their site. Now he is being charged with a crime that he had absolutely nothing to do with...he is being held responsible for the gross negligence of these people across the country who he's never even met."

As it turns out, Polinski would have been better off living out of his girlfriend's car.

For starters, whether Polinski knew it or not, his boss appears to have been openly discussing the recreational use of research chemicals on a forum called LegalHighGuides.com, which flies in the face of Motion Research's claim that the substances were not to be used for human consumption. This implicated both Polinski and Mickelis.

On that forum, a representative of Motion Research who called himself "Sandman" quickly built up the company's reputation as a vendor with integrity that sold quality products at reasonable prices. It's unclear whether Mickelis and Polinski knew "Sandman" was posting on LegalHighGuides.com. Either way, Sandman wasn't doing them any favors.

Unlike Mickelis and Polinski, but like Carlton, Sandman was married. This fact came up under troubling circumstances approximately one month before Carlton was released from his probation. Sandman's post suggested that his wife was less than pleased with his business endeavors.

"MY WIFE HAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED MY OFFICE," he wrote. "I'd take some pictures to prove it to you guys but she broke my camera. She also destroyed a laptop, my copy/[scanner]/printer, my desktop, two monitors, my scales, paper shredder and about half of my inventory. THANK GOD she did NOT find the 4-AcO-DMT!! I'm about to kill her. Please pray for me to have some strength in these hard times."

Sandman was smart enough, later on, to delete all of his original posts on LegalHighGuides.com, but he had no control over other members pasting those comments into their own.

Cached screenshots for Motion Research show that the site was closed by early October.

"Our offices were recently compromised by Federal authorities," the home page said. "We have thoroughly dedicated our company to legal compliance. However, circumstances arise where this dedication can be overlooked, regardless of that fact. With that being said, we feel that the liability which the operation of this endevour demands is too high a liability for us to keep our business in Motion [sic]."
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53 comments
andrewgazz
andrewgazz

Budge didn't know what the powder was; it was something that had caught his eye after he broke into his weed dealer's apartment and found a box containing a few sweetener-sized packets of the stuff.

Natural Selection, the stupid die. Read erowid, buy a milligram scale, and you won't become a statistic.

benada83
benada83

I feel bad for the people that died and especially there family's.   But if these stupid idiots did some research first they would still be here.   Is this the land of the free, I really dont think it is anymore.  We live in a police state, with a corrupt government that whats nothing more to control every aspect of our lives.   Fuck the police, fuck the government.   I cant wait for the anarchist revolution to start.   We  need to take these scumbags out of office.   They are ruining our country.

Craigley
Craigley

Too bad y'all missed the real fun before the 4-MMC ban!  

anothercountyheard1
anothercountyheard1

The real thing that should concern all is this: "[under the] Federal Analog Act [which] became law in 1986, dealers of analog drugs — substances that bear chemical makeups substantially similar to those of old favorites like meth, cocaine and LSD — have sidestepped prosecution by selling drugs whose molecular construction has been tweaked enough to create something technically new..." this is INACCURATE because the law references EFFECTS of drugs rather that their chemical composition. What the analog act does is criminalize chemically altered states of consciousness. ANY chemical that makes you feel euphoric is defacto an analog and therefor illegal. It outlaws the psychedelic experience.

patguy1234
patguy1234

Sooooo the dudes BROKE INTO SOMEONES HOUSE and stole this mystery powder that they had NO IDEA what it was....DUMPED AN UNKNOWN AMOUNT in come chocolate and then ate it and were surprised they OD'd??? Then some dude throws out a massive line of the stuff thinking its coke or something?? Sounds like negligence of not the distributors of the chemical but the CRIMINALS who commited a robbery to obtain it instead of doing the research on it before throwing it down their throats. This is a tragedy no doubt BUT COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IF THOSE GUYS WERE SMART. 

twoguns
twoguns

Everyone is born dying. Some will rush that end no matter what others attempt to educate them. Users buy illegal drugs that are produced by underground system. Dealers very often feed their own addiction by reselling "cut" drugs. Anything can be mixed into your weed,coke, heroin or whatever.  The sicker it makes you, the better the dealer.  Self suicidals (aka dopers) shot horse tranquilizers, inhale freon, hotshot compressed air, choke themselves while masturbating. Inhale glue, nail polish remover, paints, hair spray, and lighter fuel.Cocaine, heroin, meth khat,  ghb, Ecstasy . List never ends. Outlaw a drug & dealers change salt base to get around law. Every time some condemned- to- OD user dies,  other users scream "this is why they should legalize all drugs". The mommys push to punish dealers like their Sweety children didn't choose to pollute their body with  everything in hands reach. Not counting the damage that legal drugs already cause. Alcohol & prescription drugs are their own cluster f  nuke strike. Want to help modern world? Dealers get instant bullet in head after conviction (like Chinese). Users get three strikes & then same bullet. Why continue wasting resources on those that would eat dog excrement if they thought it would make them dizzy? Wasted worthless births.

creedtacticalgenius
creedtacticalgenius

Mr. Malisow,

Kudos for writing an article that is relatively free of the fictional media hype that is common in many "bath salt" articles. It seems apparent that you have done some serious delving into the internet sub-culture that has grown around the online distribution of psycho actives substances.

It might be obvious that many people who are  interested in this investigation are in fact connected to the "research chemical" scene in some way. I have frequented these sites for over a decade and in my opinion, they are both frightening and intriguing places. 

On one hand, this is the bleeding edge of illicit drug use. Whatever disclaimers people may use or code they may speak in, I will call it as it is. On these sites, one can certainly see an evolving side of the recreational drug user. In general, those who use these sites are somewhat more educated and aware of the implications of their actions. Many posses a rudimentary knowledge of pharmacology and chemistry that is far beyond that of the average "junky".

On the other hand, the rate at which new compounds are being marketed and pushed on human guinea pigs is terrifying. The level of knowledge maybe greater in this sub-culture, but ignorance and misinformation are rampant. I have a MS. in biochemistry; I am by no means an expert in any fields related to the the chemicals being offered on these sites, but I do know enough that I cringe a bit when I see some of the things that people are selling. 

I apologize for the long winded post. Articles like yours, albeit usually more sensationalized, are becoming more and more common as the use of grey area chemicals grows larger. Injury and death are inevitable consequences of the unstudied pharmacological profiles of these chemicals, as well as they non-existent standards of quality. 

I hope your readers will consider that ineffective drug legislation is exactly what has created this situation. Legal loopholes and draconian prosecution of even "soft" drugs are the greatest factors that make grey area chemicals an attractive prospect to drug users.

Thank you again for the article. I will certainly be following this case and it will be interesting to see what sort of action is taken on a state and perhaps even national level.

jurena175
jurena175

speaking of typos .. pretty sure its psilocybin

Diana Julian
Diana Julian

Wtf. His parents only waited 3 days until they decided to "pull the plug". What shitty parents.

ThoughtController
ThoughtController

@craig.malisow 

Quote from the story;

"The story you are reading will no doubt be parsed to shreds on these forums faster than you can say "4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethytriptamine."

FYI, you spelled tryptamine wrong. I know, I know, spell check has problems with many of these long chemical names but given the context of your typographical error, it makes for a sweet tasty load of ironic justice. I almost hurt myself laughing so hard. If your going to try to make a point like that, you might want to thoroughly check your spelling.


I love that you used a naturally occurring tryptamine as an example when making a point involving synthetic chemicals.  4-hydroxy-N,N- dimethyltryptamine turns out to be Psilocin , the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, far from synthetic or designer, far from new, far from dangerous and very illegal I might add. More irony, just saying...

Tina Marie
Tina Marie

not everyone in Katy is a drug dealing idiot!

T.j. Dubz
T.j. Dubz

Alternate name for this article: Another Reason Katy Sucks.

kingsford
kingsford

After reading the replies I have realized this isnt an open and shut case. 

I feel sorry for the guys looking at life and I feel terrible for the families of the dead kids. Its just a terrible case all around. I think we can all agree on that.  

I have kids so it hits close to home. I really wasn't trying to be so judgemental.

kingsford
kingsford

PPl like this should be taken off the street. The "rat" probably saved the lives of countless kids that had no idea what they had purchased. He probably saved the life of one of your friends kids if not yours.  Stitchgiver get a clue.

Oh and I love how this article is judge and jury. What is up with that.

sol..
sol..

So kid robs a house and steals a white powder and dies, and it's not his fault?

stitchgiver
stitchgiver

Thanks for calling out snitches, HP.  Well done.

texass
texass

Wait, so Polinski is claiming to be the innocent IT guy? Who had a full-time salaried position at a company with two other people on staff? That's his story?

rrivas1111
rrivas1111

My name is Ruth Rivas and my son, Adam, passed away last year in June because he had been smoking spice.  I have now made it my life mission to educate others about the dangers of spice.  I have created a website, www.spiceisnotnice.org  I highly recommend you view it and please share with others.  I have made presentations to the Mother/Daughter conference at my school district, parent and students meetings, drug rehab centers, a naval base in Florida, Fort Bliss in El Paso (3 X's) and will be travelling to Fort Hood on the 28th to present to them as well.  Please share my message.

Thank you.

jui113
jui113

Honestly, I couldn't agree more. Is anyone stupid enough to believe that making these research chemicals illegal will cause less people to misuse them? It will be just like the rest of drug prohibition (or alcohol prohibition in the 20s), where addiction rates remain the same or even rise. This country needs to adopt policies of harm prevention, and not blanket prohibition or else this same shit is going to keep happening. Seriously, this damn country needs to give people sovereignty over their bodies and stop reading drug dealers (and online vendors) as terrorists. I don't think Carlton killed these kids, prohibition killed them.

benada83
benada83

@anothercountyheard1     Go worship god faggot.   what the fuck are you so worried about what people do behind closed doors.    worry about your god damn self

ThoughtController
ThoughtController

@anothercountyheard1

@anothercountyheard1

Actually, your both wrong.

It pretty much means the following;

1. 'substantially similar chemical structure'
and either
2. have effects similar to substance in Schedule I or II
or
3. someone represents it as having the effect of a controlled substance

This means that a substance could make you "high" or "trip" or cause "euphoria" and be completely legal as long as it's chemical structure isn't substantially similar to a controlled substance. It also means that it can have a substantially similar chemical structure to a controlled substance and not cause substantially similar effects and it would, again, be completely legal. It MUST FIRST BE substantially similar in chemical structure, then you go 2 and/or 3 from there.

If the substance is not sold for consumption then it exempt from all of the above. 

The one thing the law isn't clear about is what substantially similar really means, nobody really knows and they give no definition. Ask a chemist and then a lawyer and then a DEA agent, you will receive three different answers. 

The full law;

Section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

"(32)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the term `controlled substance analogue' means a substance ---

"(i) the chemical structure of which is substantially similar to the chemical structure of a controlled substance in schedule I or II;
"(ii) which has a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system that is substantially similar to or greater than the stimulent, [sic] depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system of a controlled substance in schedule I or II; or
"(iii) with respect to a particular person, which such person represents or intends to have a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system that is substantially similar to or greater than the stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system of a controlled substance in schedule I or II.


"(B) Such term does not include --- "(i) a controlled substance;
"(ii) any substance for which there is an approved new drug application;
"(iii) with respect to a particular person any substance, if an exemption is in effect for investigational use, for that person, under section 505 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 355) to the extent conduct with respect to such substance is pursuant to such exemption; or
"(iv) any substance to the extent not intended for human consumption before such an exemption takes effect with respect to that substance.".

jui113
jui113

You're an idiot. You proclaim cutting costs and killing dealers and users. Wouldn't it be way cheaper (and also not violate people's sovereignty over their bodies) to just legalise drugs, but provide information to keep responsible users safe? The dumb ones who have no regard for their bodies will die and not be a drain on the system, and the responsible ones will actually be able to live in a free country.

ThoughtController
ThoughtController

@twoguns  

It would be much cheaper and cleaner to legalize them all and let Darwin sort them out. You wouldn't even need to buy bullets.

jui113
jui113

I agree with much of what you said (especially about this article not being sensational like the bath salts debacle). Given what you said about new drugs always being created to side step laws, don't you think that drug use is something that humans instinctively do (perhaps on the level of eating and sex). Wouldn't legalizing drugs, but providing information to make use safe for responsible people being the best policy? I mean otherwise the government keeps making more drugs illegal (which by the way, doesn't really deter use) allowing avenues for chemists to make money with new research chemicals that are not understood all that well.

katzdragonhunter
katzdragonhunter

what kind of parent would I be to let my brain dead son who was having one siezer after another stay on life support when he was already gone? You are an idiot >>> And lets make it clear My son was murdered. He had no idea what he was given. People like you have no heart and who in the right mind would ever say something like that about grieving parents. SHAME ON YOU...

jui113
jui113

He was probably brain dead, there is more much coming back from that.

craig.malisow
craig.malisow

@ThoughtController "If your going go try to make a point like that..."

You mean "you're." If you're going to try to make a point like that, you might want to thoroughly check your spelling. 

See how annoying and entirely beside the point that is? But thank you for elevating this discourse and bringing something of value and relevance to the table. My hat's off to you.


jui113
jui113

Intoxication is a basic human drive. There will always be a new thing on the street. You little this, some new chemical with an entirely different structure his the street in 6 months. You can't legislate morality. The best thing our government could do is legalise drugs, but provide safe avenues to get untainted drugs and provide other harm reduction services. Putting people in prison for exploring their minds means criminalizing human nature. Prohibition has done nothing to reduce drug use; so you really expect that to change?

Jimb09
Jimb09

@kingsford While I agree that the rat probably slowed things down, a long term solution needs to be considered if we really want to get a grip on our children, before someone in another state starts whispering in their ear.

@craig.malisow, you need to consider how much you threaten our children with this article as well. I appreciate your overall message, but providing people with links is like signing their death sentence.

If Carlton and Polinski can be held guilty for someone's crime going bad, then you should be held guilty for every single naive child you just navigated. Especially when young children think they are invincible. "It won't happen to me."

ThoughtController
ThoughtController

@kingsford 

 Also, I really doubt this company sold to kids. It seems like these "kids" that died didn't even know what they had, much less how to legitimately obtain it.


Remember, not only are these chemicals not controlled or scheduled, they are still readily available in the USA. The author of this article even pointed that out.

ThoughtController
ThoughtController

@kingsford

 Either you didn't completely read the article or you have trouble with reading comprehension.  It appears this company sold pure chemicals with MSDSs (material safety data sheets). Their customers knew exactly what they were getting. Now, if someone breaks into one of their customers homes and steals something, not only is the perpetrator lucky they weren't killed on the spot for burglary, they chose to use their ill gotten gains in a manor that caused their deaths.

If someone breaks into your house and steals a gun and kills a couple people with it, is the gun store you bought the gun from liable? Before you say that's a stupid argument, think about how ethical the gun industry is. Everyone involved in gun sales and manufacture and distribution undoubtedly KNOWS that some of their products WILL be misused. They still sell these extremely dangerously products on every corner though. They are used for killing people right?

Secondly, The "rat" in question obviously cooperated to save his own skin, he didn't care about the questionable ethics of this business or he wouldn't have co-founded it in the first place.

Use your brains people and don't jump on the sensationalism bandwagon.


kingsfordretard
kingsfordretard

@kingsford you've got to be joking.  The only crime here was committed by the dealer, especially for not having his chemicals secured properly in a lab setting.  The vendor in question did NOTHING wrong.

jui113
jui113

You know, if the government hadn't made cannabis (which is virtually harmless by the way) so called synthetic cannabis possibly would not have been created and definitely wouldn't have risen to the level of popularity it did.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@rrivas1111 ... why would any intelligent teenager consume fake pot "spice" when real pot is so readily available everywhere in the U$A ?

ThoughtController
ThoughtController

@craig.malisow

Well... touche, to a minor degree. I happened upon one of the top ten most common misspelled words. Like you're misspelling, spell check was completely impotent to assist me.

On the other hand, my typographical error, unlike yours, had nothing to do with the context of the  of the point I was trying to make. I think you are overlooking the gravity of the statement surrounding your error. You just gave the people that will be trashing your statements ammunition to do so. Did that escape you?


Also, I'm not the least bit annoyed by your correction. I don't write for a living and I appreciate criticism when it is beneficial to the task at hand.

ThoughtController
ThoughtController

@Jimb09 

You  have a point. For all you law breakers out there, not only did Craig point out what chemical makes you trip, he pretty much gave out a source for it and clued us in on availability and prices. Have at it kids. It's pretty cheap too. Considering how potent it is (dose is .5mg) $350 for 25g goes a long way!!! (That equates to 12,500 doses for $350. No need to pull out the calculator)

jui113
jui113

The only crime here was the kid that robbed the dealer.

craig.malisow
craig.malisow

@ThoughtController @craig.malisow Not to keep beating this dead horse, but I don't think there's any "gravity" in that typo. Look, ThoughtController (as an aside, let me point out how much I love bickering with a person who hides behind a screen name) the story before you is a 4,000-plus word look into a particular federal investigation. I'm sorry if one misspelled word destroys the credibility of the entire piece. The fact that I have not lived up to your rigorous journalistic standards will give me night terrors, I assure you. Again, my hat's off, dude.

Not that it really makes a lot of difference to me, but the fact that you have chosen to home in on the misspelling of a chemical composition in a joke about the likelihood of an online community to nitpick over a bit of esoterica actually supports the forest-for-the-trees point I was trying to (lightheartedly) make.

Don't be offended if I don't reply to whatever witty retort you'll post next. It's just that I can only spend so much time through the looking glass, y'dig?

myonlinerants
myonlinerants

I would say that almost anyone, let alone kids, teens and those with drug seeking behaviors, outside of this publications reader base, would have a greater chance and be more likely to come across information that would give them the opportunity buy hundreds of different extremely potent chemicals, than they would be to come across this story.

This idea that some how information in and of itself could even be accused of being responsible for a persons death is completely absurd.

Parents who think that people like the writer or even the

website that sold the substances can b

ThoughtController
ThoughtController

@craig.malisow

Not all kids know where to get deadly chemicals on the internet. Many of them just need a little direction. The position the other poster and I were taking is that they shouldn't be assisted at all.

 
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