One phenomenon to hit the drug market in recent years has been synthetic drugs, especially synthetic weed, known as “Spice” or “K2.” Often labeled as potpourri or incense, kids get their hands on it easier than the real thing and others use it to get around drug testing, as it is sprayed with cannabinoids other than THC. However, there is nothing safe about synthetic weed. It sends many to the emergency room and even causes death. Accordingly, law enforcement has been cracking down on operations that produce and sell synthetic drugs. On Wednesday, an indictment was brought against 16 people in the Houston area for slinging synthetic bud. One of them is a college professor.
The indictment names Khader Fahed Tanous, Salem Fahed Tannous, Ziad Mahmoud Alsalameh, Muhammad Shariq Siddiqu, Ayisha Khurram, Sayed Ali, Omar Maher Al Nasser, Ali Tafesh, Hazim Hisham Qadus, Aqil Khader, Khalil Munier Khalil, Nagy Mahmoud Ali, Mohammed Rafat Taha, Steve Shafiq Amira, Abdalnour Izz and Frank Muratalla. The 13-count indictment alleges that those included “conspired with one another to possess with the intent to distribute synthetic drugs.” Twelve have been arrested thus far, including Omar Al Nasser, a finance professor at the University of Houston.
According to ABC13, “More than nine and a half tons of synthetic drugs were seized in the operation, which spanned multiple years and involved several different agencies.” The drugs were sold across Houston and else on the street, as well as at gas stations, convenience stores and cell phone retailers.
Two more of the 16 indicted are expected to turn themselves in. To are believed to be out of the country.The indictment also listed businesses, homes and cars that the government intends to seize. “Asking for return of $35 million in a money judgment which we believe demonstrates the significance of this criminal organization and the kind of money they were making based on the amount of drugs that were seized in addition to the money that was being seized, which was in the millions of dollars,” said Kenneth Magidson, US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.
In a statement regarding its embattled faculty member, UH-Victoria stated:
“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.”