A 20-year-old Forsyth County man pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of intent to sell so many different types of drugs that Superior Court Judge Philip Smith likened it to a “wide open pharmacy.”
Joshua Taylor Bell will serve between 60 to 120 days in jail and will spend five years of probation on the eight counts of possession with intent to sell drugs ranging from LSD and ecstasy to marijuana and methylone.
He also pleaded guilty to intent to sell ketamine powder, commonly known among veterinarians as an animal tranquilizer.
Bell was the first of five young adults arrested in July 2012 at the Summit Crossing apartment complex in what Forsyth County Sheriff's investigators described as a major hit on drug distributors.
The drugs were found in a home rented by Noah Paul Spicer and Alex Robichaux. The two are facing trial, along with Evan Michael Snider and Kara Lane Buffington. All five suspects were between 18 and 20 years old at the time of their arrests.
Bell said he was staying in the apartment’s living room at the time. In the house, there was about an ounce of methylone powder that Bell said he bought for about $60 under the impression it was ecstasy.
He also had about $800 worth, or one ounce, of ecstasy, a pound of marijuana, about four grams of ketamine powder, less than half gram of another drug that he thought was ecstasy and an unspecified amount of DMT.
He also had 20 to 30 hits of LSD, which he maintained were for personal use not to sell.
“You and your buddies were pretty much running a pharmacy over there,” Smith said.
Logan Butler, Bell’s attorney, said his client was accepting responsibility by pleading guilty. Butler added that Bell has been clean for a year, and is in a two-year program of study for audio engineering.
“On paper, it’s a lot to go through,” Butler said of the charges. “His parents are here today and they have been helping him a lot ... to get him back on track.”
In reading Bell’s sentence, Smith implored him to avoid talking with the other four suspects, as well as any friends who may use drugs, saying it was his “only chance to stay clean.”
“If you fall back in with the same people, you’ll fall into the same habits,” he said. “Anyone who says to you ‘let’s go party’ is not your friend ... you can’t have any contact with those people.”
Smith also told Bell to be grateful for his parents, both of whom were by his side in court Tuesday.
“You have no idea how valuable that is,” Smith said. “There’s really no greater tragedy than to have a kid mixed up on drugs ... you have no idea the heartache you’ve caused.”
In addition to the probation time, Bell must pay a $5,000 fine, serve 120 hours of community service and testify against the other suspects.