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Overdose death leads to state's first Ibogaine prosecution

A 49-year-old Westminster man is awaiting trial on federal drug distribution charges which involve - for the first time in Colorado's known history - Ibogaine, a drug only approved for use in three foreign countries. 

Ameen Alai, also known as Adam Powars, was arrested Jan. 12 by the United States Marshals Service, concluding a three-month fugitive investigation.  

Alai faces a single count of distributing Ibogaine, a Schedule I controlled substance, and causing death.

An indictment naming Alai as the source of the drug was handed down last November. The indictment identifies the overdose victim by the initials 'A.H.'

A warrant for Alai's arrest was issued the same day. 

According to a spokesperson with the the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado, this is the first case involving Ibogaine they have prosecuted. 

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance taken from the root bark of an African shrub. It is reportedly effective in reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms and is used in the treatment of addiction - just not legally in the U.S.

In fact, the drug is only approved for medical use in Brazil, South Africa, and New Zealand, according to The website points out varying success rates in drug treatment as well as safety concerns with regards to users' cardiovascular health.

The AG's Office spokesperson did not offer further comment on the case.

The indictment does not indicate whether the overdose victim passed away in the metro area or, for that matter, Colorado. Nor does it mention whether other drugs contributed to the victim's passing.

Alai was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond Jan. 19. His bond conditions include court supervision, surrender of passport, urinalysis, drug counseling. A four-day trial is tentatively scheduled to begin March 20, 2023 at 9:00 a.m.

Two federal agencies, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Rocky Mountain Division and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Front Range Task Force (FRTF), conducted the investigation in Alai's case.  

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