Oklahoma Siblings Flee to China Amid Federal Drug Investigation

The brother and sister duo who formerly owned the Ziggyz Smoke Shop chain in Oklahoma has fled to China in the midst of a federal drug probe.

The attorney for Johnny Ren and his sister Wendy Ren says that his clients are not attempting to flee prosecution, but rather returned to China because of "negative media attention and public scrutiny."

The attorney also claims that Ziggyz Smoke Shops had stopped selling synthetic marijuana when new state law made it illegal to do so in 2014.

However, in April 2015, the DEA raided several Ziggyz stores and allegedly seized more than 100 boxes of synthetic marijuana, as well as $992,861 in cash, gold and silver bars, jewelry and other currency from Ziggyz stores, various bank accounts and safe deposit boxes. The federal government alleges that nearly all of the profits from the smoke shop chain were directly related to the sale of synthetic marijuana.

After the raid, Johnny Ren sold the Ziggyz chain to focus on his vaping business, Vapor Products, Inc. The company remains in business as VP Distributions, but employees reportedly say that Johnny Ren no longer owns the business; however, the warehouse is owned by Johnny Ren, according to property records, and VP Distributions's website lists Vapor Products, Inc. as its parent company.

The company's website offers products including cannabidiol, a hemp derivative. Agents with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs say it is illegal to sell cannabidiol in Oklahoma, despite a recent law change which will allow the use of cannabidiol to treat children with seizure disorders.

The federal investigation is ongoing, and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oklahoma says, "It still is an ongoing criminal investigation — it isn't as if the matter has been dropped. People do flee sometimes — they might not be in the United States, but that does not stop us from pressing charges."

However, the case against Wendy Ren has been dismissed. After her arrest and charge in September 2015, she was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Despite undergoing several months of treatment at a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, she "remains incompetent to stand trial and it is unlikely she will become competent in the foreseeable future." In October, citing her lack of improved mental state and her inability to assist in her own defense, federal

Magistrate Judge Charles Goodwin dismissed all charges against her.

Image credit: byeangel

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