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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - First, the feds said they found a West Side mini mart had been selling synthetic marijuana containing a substance used in rat poison.
Then, they said they caught its owner with a bag full of $280,000 cash, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
Now Fouad Masoud, 48, of Justice, and two others have been charged with illegally selling the drug after someone reported “unusual bleeding” from the use of the product found at the King Mini Mart in the 1300 block of South Kedzie, according to a federal criminal complaint filed Monday.
The drug is often known as K2.
Also charged are Jamil Abdelrahman Jad Allah and Adil Khan Mohammed, both 44, who worked at the store.
The Illinois State Police tipped off the Chicago Police Department to Masoud’s store, records show. On March 26, an undercover CPD officer wore a video recording device while trying to buy K2 there.
“I don’t have the good stuff right now,” Mohammed allegedly told the officer. “All I got is garbage.”
The officer paid $20 for a package labeled “Blue Giant” and another labeled “Crazy Monkey.” The next day, the officer paid $25 for three packages. Moments later, CPD’s vice control license section unit conducted a premise check.
Jad Allah led officers to an underground storage area where they found a bucket filled with 112 packages of synthetic marijuana weighing 1,920 grams. The officers closed the store.
CPD also submitted some of the purchased drugs to a DEA lab, where it was determined they contained “an unconfirmed detectable amount” of a substance frequently used in rat poison.
When he was arrested Sunday, Jad Allah told authorities the store had sold 80 packages of synthetic marijuana daily. The store would charge $10 for a 4-5 gram package and $20 for a 10-gram package.
The same day, officers approached Masoud as he left his townhouse in Justice carrying a large paper grocery bag and a paper box. Officers could see money inside.
“Whoa, how much money is that?” an officer asked.
Masoud told officers the bag contained $280,000, according to the complaint.
Inside his house, officers also allegedly found 2,900 grams of material in packages that appeared to contain synthetic marijuana.
Public health officials have linked the death of a second person to the use of synthetic cannabinoids after they used the drug and suffered severe bleeding.
As of Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health had received reports of 56 people — including 17 in Chicago — who suffered severe bleeding after using synthetic cannabinoids, which are often called “fake weed,” “Spice” and “K2.”
Two of those people have died, IDPH has said. The first fatality linked to the drugs was reported Friday.
The cases, which have all been reported in the Chicago area or central Illinois, have required people to be hospitalized for a range of symptoms, including coughing up blood, blood in their urine, a severe bloody nose and bleeding gums, according to IDPH.
“We continue to see the number of cases rise,” IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. said in a statement. “IDPH is continuing to work with local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to identify common products. Without more information, IDPH does not know how much contaminated product is circulating or where.”
Synthetic cannabinoids are mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material for smoking or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices, IDPH said. They can be found nationwide at convenience stores, gas stations, head shops, novelty stores and online.
The effects can be unpredictable, harmful and deadly, according to IDPH.
“We strongly urge everyone not to use synthetic cannabinoids,” Shah added.