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Superior man sentenced to over 17 years in prison for selling synthetic drugs

DULUTH, MN (WTAQ) - A man from Superior has been sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in a federal prison for running a former head shop in Minnesota that sold illegal synthetic drugs.

57-year-old James Carlson was convicted last October on 51 charges of selling millions of dollars of bath salts, spice, and other synthetic drugs. He ran The Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth before authorities shut it down.

Duluth Police said synthetic drug cases are down 55 percent since the store closed. Carlson never denied selling the drugs, but he disputed that they're illegal.

His lawyer said an appeal would be filed by Monday.

In a 20 minute statement Thursday, Carlson told Federal Judge James Doty in Minneapolis that he was unfairly singled out for prosecution. He said he knew of dozens of stores in Minnesota alone, and countless others on the Internet, which sell synthetics without government interference.

Carlson said Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar was among those complaining that it was difficult to regulate those products.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Surya Saxena said the prison sentence should send a clear message that synthetic drugs are illegal -- and their sellers will face "serious criminal consequences."

The judge also sentenced Carlson's former girlfriend, Lava Haugen, to 5 years in prison for role in running the head shop.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)