A West Miami-Dade drug addict charged with assisting a convicted importer of the notorious Chinese-made synthetic drug known as flakka was acquitted by a federal jury on Wednesday.
Miguel Granda, accused of receiving two kilos of blue flakka — the cheap and powerful stimulant drug that has triggered bizarre behavior in South Florida users — avoided a potentially long sentence as a result of the Miami jury’s not guilty verdicts on conspiracy, importation and distribution charges.
Granda’s defense: He had no clue the packages delivered to his home last year contained illegal drugs imported through the U.S. mail from China. The prosecution had to prove he knew there were narcotics inside to win a conviction.
“He had no knowledge whatsoever of what was in those packages, and he he shouldn’t have been charged in the first place,” defense attorney Susan Bozorgi said after her client’s acquittal. “We are thankful to the jury.”
She said Granda, 24, was relieved with the outcome, but emphasized he is a “very serious drug addict” who needs treatment.
In the first flakka importation case that went to trial in South Florida , the federal jury had to decide whether Granda broke the law when he agreed to accept $250 cash from a Miami drug dealer, Eudoro Romero, for each package mailed to his home.
“He wanted to make easy money,” prosecutor Maurice Johnson told jurors during closing arguments on Wednesday. “He knew what was in the packages.”
The defense countered that Granda was manipulated by Romero, 26, a seasoned drug dealer who knew him from high school. Romero, who ordered flakka from China over the Internet, was arrested last year and cut a deal with the feds to shave time off his prison sentence.
Bozorgi said during closing arguments that Romero never told Granda that the packages contained drugs. “There was no need for him to know,” the defense attorney said, adding the dealer testified at trial that her client was like a “pawn — a means to an end.”
While there have been several other recent flakka importation arrests in South Florida, all of the defendants so far have accepted plea deals. Granda sought such a deal, but U.S District Judge Federico Moreno would not accept it, forcing his case to trial.
Granda's trial opened a window into the latest racket in South Florida's drug trade: ordering synthetic drugs from Chinese labs using U.S. mail services. The trade, often plied by tech-savvy college students with few connections to traditional drug organizations, was recently spotlighted in the Miami Herald series Pipeline China.
Besides the club-drug known as Molly, the Chinese labs have flooded South Florida with alpha-PVP, known on the street as flakka. It was not until October that China finally banned alpha-PVP and over 100 other synthetic drugs.