Omaha, NE -- For two weeks, a jury has heard arguments against and for 48-year-old John Ways Jr. as to whether or not the Exotica stores he ran were selling illegal synthetic drugs or drug paraphernalia.
Ways Jr. was indicted for selling drug paraphernalia, selling synthetic drugs, money laundering, and weapons charges. Ten other co-defendants have taken plea deals. Ways Jr. is the only one who went to trial in U.S. Federal Court.
In September 2012, federal agents raided Exotica stores in Omaha, Lincoln, Council Bluffs, and South Sioux City. They alleged Ways Jr. ran the stores and made millions of dollars selling illegal products.
Joshua Wellborn operated the Council Bluffs store for Ways Jr. for almost a year and a half. He testified about 90-95% of the store's sales were from “herbal incense”, also known as the alleged synthetic drugs or K-2 that people would smoke.
Before the stores were raided in 2012, Wellborn said customers would buy a pipe, filter, and herbal incense at the same time, every day. Employees allegedly had a "don't ask" policy.
The defense had wellborn read dozens of lab reports that came with the herbal incense stating their chemical makeup. Defense attorney Don Schense said labs like American International Biotechnology, who did the testing, were DEA approved.
"I just find it kind of funny that 99% of them use the same template. All those different companies use the same lab," Wellborn reacted.
Jurors got to see hundreds of packets of suspected K-2 seized in the raids from the stores, and from a U-Haul parked behind the 72nd & Dodge St. location.
The trial will continue on Monday. That’s when the prosecution is anticipated to rest their case.