Arrests Made, Businesses Raided During Synthetic Drug Sweep

(Memphis) Forty people are alleged to be part of the synthetic drug trade in West Tennessee, according to indictments unsealed Wednesday.

The DEA initiative known as Project Synergy is the largest coordinated law enforcement strike against designer drugs. It targets manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of more than 250 synthetic drugs.

“As alleged, the defendants were involved in an international web of distributing illegal synthetic drugs at numerous retail establishments throughout West Tennessee and beyond, many lining their pockets with multi-million-dollar profits,” U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III said

Federal state and local law enforcement conducted a two-year investigation, which ended with hundreds of purchases and seizures from more than 34 different storefronts in the Western District of Tennessee.

More than 76 search warrants and 35 arrest warrants were executed during Wednesday’s take-down.

According to the Department of Justice, “the drugs seized generally fall into two categories: synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones.

“Synthetic cannabinoids, often known by the street names “Spice” or “K2,” mimic the hallucinogenic effects of marijuana with the added side effects of hallucinations, seizures, and dependency/addiction not usually associated with marijuana users.

“Synthetic cathinones, better known as “bath salts” or “plant food,” produce a high similar to methamphetamine, MDMA or cocaine. Abusers experience chest pain, increased blood pressure, agitation, panic attacks, irrational behavior, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and even heart attacks and strokes.”

“The sellers of synthetic drugs specifically target our young people,” said District Attorney General Amy Weirich. “We will not sit back and ignore this threat to our children and to the entire community.”

The following individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury in Memphis:

• Ali S. Abdelrahim, 51, Collierville, TN, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Maged Ali-Ahmed Abdullah, 45, Memphis, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Samer Abu-Atiyeh, age and address unknown, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Kadhim Almaslouk, 43, Memphis, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Yousef Al Sharif, 39, Cordova, TN, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Sung Su An, 44, Collierville, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Emad Bahhur, 57, Germantown, TN, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Fayez Bahhur, 32, Cordova, TN, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count. The money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and fine of up to half a million dollars.

• Lewis Cochran, 42, Olive Branch, MS, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Pamela Cochran, 42, Olive Branch, MS, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Gary Geiser, 63, Memphis, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of money laundering, and one count of structuring. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and the fine of up to half a million dollars. The money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to half a million dollars. The structuring charge carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to half a million dollars.

• Lisa Gertz, 50, Memphis, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Abdul Aziz Isani, 69, Olive Branch, MS, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Nabil Mawlawi, 48, Memphis, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Cameron Marcrum, 31, address unknown, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count. The money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and the fine of up to half a million dollars.

• Jonathan Martin, age and address unknown, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Crystal McCracken, 26, Memphis, charged in two separate indictments with a total of three counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Linda Montgomery, 61, Memphis, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count. The money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and the fine of up to half a million dollars.

• Fuad Murshed, 31, Memphis, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Daniel Pendergrass, 66, Memphis, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count. The money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and the fine of up to half a million dollars.

• Mohammed Al Rawahneh, 28, Germantown, TN, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• James Sexton, 38, Memphis, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Robert Snyder, 33, Memphis, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Max Suh, 40, Collierville, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for the conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million. The money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and the fine of up to half a million dollars.

• Abdel Kareem Mohammad Taha, 23, Cordova, TN, charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million for each count.

• Max Terhune, 29, Memphis, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Donald Tyler, 43, Memphis, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Umar Yusuf, a/k/a “Umar Hussein”, 34, Bartlett, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

The following individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury in Jackson, TN:

• Hassan “Sam” Safa, 40, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and five counts of possession with intent to distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Ehab “Mark” Rezk, 37, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute, and 56 counts of structuring. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for the conspiracy count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million. The structuring charge carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to half a million dollars for each count.

• Ali Safa, 43, New York City, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of possession with intent to distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Mahmoud, “Steve” Safa, 46, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and two counts of possession with intent to distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Mohamed Khalil, 57, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Hussein Salloukh, 25, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of possession with intent to distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Nazem Salloukh, 52, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of possession with intent to distribute. I If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Ahmad, a/k/a Ahmed “Eddie” Elsebae, 51, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of possession with intent to distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Akram Nagi, 26, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of possession with intent to distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Paula Nell Kirk, 46, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and two counts of possession with intent to distribute. If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Irene Rosas-Montalvo, 33, Jackson, TN, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute. If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

• Hani Tarhini, 46, Panama City, FL, charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute and one count of possession with intent to distribute. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count. If previously convicted of a drug crime, the sentence could be up to 30 years and the fine up to $2 million.

Search warrants were also served on the following businesses:

Tobacco Box, 1740 N. Germantown Pkwy., Suite 10, Cordova, TN
Tobacco Zone, 1319 N. Germantown Pkwy., Cordova, TN
Tobacco Zone, 2857 Kirby #115, Memphis, TN
Tobacco Hut Smoke Shop, 5119 Summer Avenue, #103, Memphis TN
Buddy’s Smoke, address unavailable
Cooper Young Glassworks, 906 S. Cooper St., Memphis, TN
Gonzo’s Smoke Shop, 2125 Sycamore View Rd., Memphis, TN
Smoke N More, 1775 N. Germantown Pkwy., Cordova, TN
A&P Tobacco, 3878 Austin Peay Hwy., Memphis, TN
Wizards (store), 1999 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN
Wizards (warehouse) 11 S. Morrison, Memphis, TN
Friendly Quick Stop, 5510 Stage Rd., Bartlett, TN
Tobacco Etc., 6600 Stage Rd., #128, Bartlett, TN
Tobacco Express, 4520 Summer Ave., #1, Memphis, TN
Humidor Tobacco, 1166 N. Houston Levee, #104, Memphis, TN
Whatever, 610 S. Highland, Memphis, TN
CubeSmart (Storage facility used by Whatever), 2700 Poplar, storage unit B8, Memphis, TN
Tobacco Max, 6730 Winchester Rd., Memphis, TN
Highland Smoke Shop, 571 S. Highland, Memphis, TN
Tobacco Superstore, 7464 Winchester Rd., Suite 104, Memphis, TN
Tobacco World, 4621 Quince, Memphis, TN
Longtown BP, 3965 Hwy 59, Mason, TN
Half-Price Smoke Shop, 5520 Summer Ave., Suite 104, Memphis, TN
Tobacco World Smoke Shop, 640 South Highland, Memphis, TN
Superway Gas Station, 26 Bowling Dr., Jackson, TN
Always Save Grocery Store, 419 E. College St., Jackson, TN
Superway Gas Station, 795 Airways Blvd., Jackson, TN
Superway Discount Tobacco & Gas, 1435 Riverside Dr., Jackson, TN
Q-Mart/Superway Gas Station, 2990 East End Dr., Humboldt, TN

*Information from the Department of Justice, United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton III, Western District of Tennessee

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