BEAUMONT, Texas — The owner of Jake’s Fireworks in Nederland has been sentenced on federal drug charges.
Jake Ellis Daughtry, 35, of Nederland, was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
Daughtry pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas in January 2022.
He pleaded guilty to "conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a date rape drug over the internet to an unauthorized purchaser."
At the same time an employee, Kip William Daughtry, 48, of Vidor, also pleaded guilty to "possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance analogue."
The defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury on June 3, 2020, and Kip William Daughtry still faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
Jake Daughtry, Joe Daughtry, Sandra Daughtry, and Kip Daughtry agreed to a court order that prohibits them, or Right Price Chemicals, to ever sell or distribute BDO to anyone or anywhere.
BDO is a chemical manufactured only for industrial or laboratory use as a floor stripper or vehicle wheel cleaner and is not intended for human consumption. When BDO is ingested, investigators said it immediately metabolizes into a known date-rape drug, GHB. It can cause potential overdoses, addiction, and death, according to the release. .
Jake Daughtry's cousin, April Cook, says this decision is going to tear their family apart.
"My parents are in their 70's, Jake's parents are in their 60's and 70's, its hard, he's got a brand new baby, a baby, grand baby not even a month old, first one," Cook said.
Investigators say at least two people died after consuming BDO sent from Nederland.
"Somebody died in Florida and they traced it back to their company, I mean, on the bottle it said not for human consumption, it's floor stripper, all this time they said it was drugs, they were selling drugs, they were selling floor stripper, along with other stuff," Cook said.
Court documents say Jake Daughtry and Kip Daughtry were the leaders of a Chemical Trafficking Organization cell operating on a national scale.
An investigation into the organization began in 2018 when federal agents with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in West Palm Beach, Florida intercepted mail parcels of a chemical identified as 1,4 butanediol, commonly referred to as BDO.
The federal government said the Nederland business acted as a front for Right Price Chemicals.
The DEA traced the seized parcels to their origination point, which was Right Price Chemicals. Agents confirmed Right Price Chemicals is a business located on Twin City Highway in Nederland, and it's owned by Jake Daughtry. The seasonal fireworks business called Jake’s Fireworks is also operated at that location.
“After being notified by Florida law enforcement that this dangerous and lethal chemical was being sold to users for a nefarious purpose, East Texas law enforcement agencies took action to protect the public and prevent others from falling prey to the sale and use of this dangerous substance,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston.
Prosecutors said the Daughtry’s continued to sell BDO even after becoming aware that some customers were ingesting the substance for its narcotic effect rather than using it for its intended commercial purpose.
Cook says her family is not at fault because they called the DEA here in Texas to ask it if was legal for them to sell DBO, and they gave them the green light.
"They reached out with their lawyers and the DEA and they said as far as we can tell yes it is, they said go ahead we don't see a problem with it," Cook said.
Cook firmly believes her family didn't intend to cause anyone harm.
"They don't have records, they've never been in trouble, they don't even have tattoos, I mean they're good upstanding people," Cook said.
An investigation showed that since 2016, Right Price Chemicals has distributed approximately 7,000 gallons of BDO through thousands of orders across the nation. Those sales generated $4.5 million, the release says.
Eight people were arrested on federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges following the raid on Jake's Fireworks retailer on July 15, 2020.
"This was a complicated investigation involving numerous investigative agencies and both the criminal and civil divisions of the US. attorney's office. Their collaborative efforts have made our community and country a safer place to live," Featherston said in the release.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Texas obtained a temporary restraining order under the Controlled Substances Act on July 13, 2020, on the grounds that Jake’s Fireworks was a drug-involved premise, according to U.S. Attorney Stephen Cox.
In order to grant the injunction, Judge Michael Truncale said in a file 12News story that the evidence must show the following:
- Right Price Chemicals ordered and shipped BDO out of the Jake’s Fireworks premises.
- BDO was stored in and around the Jake’s Fireworks premises.
- Right Price Chemicals’ business offices and operations were situated within the Jake’s Fireworks building.
- Employees of Right Price Chemicals, including Jake Daughtry, knew that BDO was a “controlled substance analogue” and that customers were using BDO for human consumption.
- Right Price Chemicals continued to sell BDO for human consumption despite knowing it was being used illegally.
The July 13, 2020, temporary restraining order immediately shut down operations of the business and any further distribution of BDO and other chemicals by Jake Daughtry, Joe Daughtry, Sandra Daughtry, and Kip Daughtry.
They have since agreed to a permanent injunction that prohibits any of them or Right Price Chemicals, from ever selling or distributing BDO to anyone in the future.
It is unclear what charges have been filed against the other defendants.
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This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.