Former Traverse City man used Internet to buy synthetic drugs from China, sold in Michigan, elsewhere

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A former Traverse City man has been sentenced to prison for importing synthetic drugs into Michigan and New York after finding a supplier on the Internet.

Joshua David Buerman, 27, was sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiracy to import into Michigan more than 5 kilograms of methylone, a synthetic stimulant with a chemical structure that closely resembles Ecstasy, or MDMA.

Methylone is often sold as “bath salts” or research chemicals. It has been listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act since 2013.

Buerman received a concurrent nine-year sentence for his role in a conspiracy to bring methylone to New York. Although he was originally charged in the Western District of Michigan, the case was transferred to New York.

“Synthetic drugs such as methylone are extremely dangerous,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles Jr. said in Grand Rapids.

“Users are often misled into believing synthetic drugs are less harmful than more commonly known street drugs, particularly by their innocuous sounding street name, ‘bath salts.’ In truth, synthetic drugs can lead to severe psychological dependence and death.”

Buerman was living in Traverse City in February 2012 when he began buying methylone and other synthetic drugs from a Chinese source he found on the Internet. In coming months, he ordered more than 5 kilograms of methylone, delivered through the U.S. Postal Service.

Months later, he left Michigan and moved back to Rochester, N.Y., where he continued to import drugs from the same supplier. He recruited several associates there to help him.

Investigators learned during the investigation that Buerman’s supplier was shipping substances to the U.S., Austria, Canada, Finland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Lithuania, prosecutors said.

The investigation led to 54 arrests in the U.S. and seizure of more than 70 kilograms of methylone and other synthetic substances.

John Agar covers crime for MLive/Grand Rapids Press E-mail John and follow him on Twitter at