A pair of brothers who ran parallel but separate drug distribution operations, including the largest synthetic narcotics distribution ring in Jefferson Parish that controlled all synthetic marijuana sales in East Jefferson for a period of time, began lengthy prison sentences on Monday (Oct. 3).
Henry Bentel, 35, of Metairie, was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Ronald Bentel, 36, of Folsom, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The crimes to which they pleaded guilty last month originate from their actions during a 2 ½-year period ending in July 2012. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office opened investigations into the Bentels, and into an unrelated synthetic narcotics operation based on the West Bank, after receiving reports that several people overdosed from ingesting the substances the Bentel organization and others manufactured and distributed.
The synthetic narcotics were sold in more than 90 locations in Jefferson Parish when the Sheriff’s Office investigation began, including The Rob Shop, a business belonging to the Bentels. Investigators seized more than $800,000 in cash from the Bentel organization upon arresting various suspects. Today, there are no such locations selling the products.
They were part of a criminal enterprise that imported chemicals from Canada and China to manufacture synthetic marijuana they named POW, which they sold through The Rob Shop and other retail outlets in Jefferson Parish.
Members of the enterprise manufactured the illegal substances in houses they rented in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. At the peak of their operation, the members manufactured about 300 pounds of their product every week. They sold POW for $10 per gram, or $20 for three grams.
Henry Bentel pleaded guilty on Sept. 12 to conspiracy to distribute controlled dangerous substances, three counts of distribution of cyclpropanoylindoles, one count of possession with intent to distribute cathinones, possession with intent to distribute naphtholyindoles, obstruction of justice and cruelty to juveniles. The cruelty charge stems from his allowing a juvenile to be present while he distributed a controlled dangerous substance.
Ronald Bentel pleaded guilty on Sept. 26, to racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering over $20,000 and conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance.
Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court accepted the guilty pleas and handed down the sentences.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese prosecuted the cases.