CHICAGO -- A week after the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a warning about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, the owner of a Chicago convenience store and two of his employees have been charged with selling synthetic marijuana, a substance that has been linked to two deaths in Illinois.
Federal prosecutors have charged Fouad Masoud and Jad Allah, both of Justice, Ill., and Adil Khan Mohammed of Chicago with conspiring to distribute and sell a controlled substance. Masoud owns the King Mini Mart in Chicago. Citations were also issued for selling unstamped cigarettes and outdated merchandise and possession of illegal fireworks, according to a criminal complaint.
Federal prosecutors said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents made undercover buys of the synthetic cannabinoids, which were packaged in sealed containers and labeled with names such as “Matrix,” “Blue Giant” and “Crazy Monkey,” at the store on Chicago's West Side. Testing of the products revealed brodifacoum, a toxic substance frequently used in rat poison, the Associated Press reported.
According to the criminal complaint, Illinois State Police provided information to the Chicago Police Department that an individual had recently reported experiencing adverse symptoms, including unusual bleeding, from using synthetic cannabinoids obtained from the King Mini Mart.
Law enforcement arrested Allah on April 1. Allah said the store sold about 80 packages of synthetic cannabinoids daily for about $10 per 4- to 5-gram package and $20 for each 10-gram package, according to the criminal complaint.
Mohammed and Masoud were arrested later the same day at their respective residences; Masoud was found with $280,000 in a paper grocery bag and 2,900 grams of suspected synthetic cannabinoids, according to the document.
The three men face maximum sentences of 20 years in prison if convicted, according to a West Side Patch report.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said April 2 that 56 people in Illinois have experienced severe bleeding this year after using the synthetic cannabinoids, and two have died.