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Multi-Agency Investigation Shuts Down Synthetic Drug Operation In Houston

Federal officials say it was sold in gas stations and convenience stores.

Kenneth Magidson (Center), U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, said the drug
Kenneth Magidson (Center), U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, said the drug "can lead to all kinds of physical and mental issues."

Federal officials in Houston have dismantled a major ring that produced and sold a synthetic drug that authorities say is one of the most dangerous threats to public health in the United States.

Both federal and local law enforcement agencies –like the Drug Enforcement Agency, DEA, and the Houston Police Department– participated in the investigation.

Kenneth Magidson, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, says the drug was sold primarily in the Houston area.

It was marketed like synthetic marijuana with names like Kush and sold in establishments such as gas stations and convenience stores.

packaging of KUSH
packaging of synthetic marijuana – street name “kush”

Investigators seized more than nine tons of the drug and 16 people have been charged. They are accused of selling the drug and money laundering, among other charges.

One of the persons charged is Omar Maher Alnasser, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Houston-Victoria.

A spokesperson for the university said in a statement they take this matter "very seriously" and added the university "will fully cooperate with law enforcement on all aspects of their investigation."

Magidson underlines this drug "can lead to all kinds of physical and mental issues, and you can die."

Joseph Arabit, special agent for the DEA in Houston, notes this is a type of synthetic drug that is mostly being sold to youth who either smoke it or ingest it.

The raw chemicals used to make it are brought from foreign countries and mixed with plant materials, sometimes in dirty machines like cement mixers.

"These synthetic cannabinoids are nothing more than unregulated chemicals sprayed on plant material. It's poison," Arabit said.

 

Indictment

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