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University professor in Houston among 16 indicted by feds as part of international synthetic drug ring

May 18, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
University professor in Houston among 16 indicted by feds as part of international synthetic drug ring

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A university professor in Texas is one of 16 co-conspirators named in a sweeping 14 count federal indictment as part of a $35 million international drug network that manufactured tons synthetic marijuana (also known as kush).

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, along with DEA Special Agent in Charge, Joseph Arabit made the announcement on Tuesday.

According to the indictment, the arrests stemmed from a four-year multi-agency federal investigation into one of the largest synthetic cannabinoid trafficking enterprises in the country, which included the seizure of 9.5 tons of narcotics and precursor chemicals used to make synthetic drugs.

“These individuals are being charged in the manufacturing and distribution of what has become one of the most dangerous and emerging public health threats in the United States – synthetic drugs,” says Magidson.

Madgison also said that the drug network imported and mixed chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana in warehouses with plant material then packaged the product and sold it to stores in and around the Houston area.

Among those listed in the indictment, the following individuals were named: Salem Fahed Tannous, Ziad Mahmoud Alsalameh, Muhammad Shariq Siddiqui, Ayisha Khurram, Sayed Ali. Along with Muratalla, Khader Fahed Tanous, Ali Tafesh, Hazim Hisham Qadus, Aqil Khader, Khalil Munier Khalil, Nagy Mahmoud Ali, Mohammed Rafat Taha, Steve Shafiq Amira, and Abdelnour Izz.

Another suspect charged with money-laundering was Omar Al Nasser, who is a finance professor at the University of Houston-Victoria. A school spokeswoman confirmed Al-Nasser taught at the University.

Authorities said 14 of the 16 indicted by a Houston federal grand jury are in custody while two remain fugitives.

Several of the co-conspirators in the indictment stand accused of committing fraud by marketing their products as safe, using such labeling as “incense” and “potpourri,” which authorities say are marketed to kids, causing children to become sick or even die.

Package labels also contained falsified information such as ‘lab certified,’ ‘not for human consumption,’ and ‘100% legal,’ which in actuality they contained manufactured synthetic cannabinoids containing hazardous chemicals that, when smoked or ingested, could cause serious bodily harm.

“These synthetic cannabinoids are nothing more than unregulated chemicals sprayed on plant material. It’s poison,” said Arabit, who went on to stress the dangers of synthetic drugs.

Feds are also seeking a $35 million forfeiture including home and cars from the defendants.

University of Houston-Victoria officals released a statement following the arrest of Al Naser Eyewitness, which read:

“The University of Houston-Victoria takes this matter very seriously and will fully cooperate with law enforcement on all aspects of their investigation. As more information becomes available, UHV officials will consider action appropriate to the situation.”

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