Man wanted for manslaughter after synthetic drug raid surrenders

Ronald Brown Jr. makes his first appearance in court Saturday

Jacksonville, Fla. – Ronald Brown Jr., who was accused of manslaughter in the death of 16-year-old Matthew Purdy, turned himself in to police on Saturday. 

Police said Purdy died at Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park in Green Cove Springs after overdosing on synthetic marijuana purchased from a Smoker's Video store. Orginally, he was believed to have had an allergic reaction to the chemical compound "Sunshine" found in synthetic pot. That was not the case.

Brown made his first appearance in court and ordered held on $500,000 bond. If Brown does post bail, he'll be required to wear a GPS device and surrender his passport.

“A GPS and passport removal? With a GPS, he could be home drinking margaritas. Right now, my son’s home in bed, crying because he wants his brother back,” said the victim's mother, Brenda Purdy, after attending Brown's hearing.

Brown was one of 13 people wanted for arrest after a three-year investigation called Operation Chain Smokers that led to raids earlier this week. Local, state and federal author ties seized $62,089.75 in cash, 262 vials of "Sunshine," 3,317 bags of "Freeze," and seized two vehicles.

Brown was the only person charged with manslaughter, but the owners and managers were charged with either racketeering or running a criminal enterprise. Many were charged with multiple counts of selling a altered or mislabeled drug.