Feds arrest dozens across Mid-South in synthetic drug sweep - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Feds arrest dozens across Mid-South in synthetic drug sweep

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Sarah Bleau / FOX13 News Sarah Bleau / FOX13 News
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -

Fourteen Shelby County businesses and smoke shops were shut down as a part of a two-year, nationwide synthetic drug sweep by 500 federal and local law enforcement officers, according to Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.

On Wednesday hundreds of purchases and seizures, including weapons, $1 million and bank accounts, were collected from more than 34 different stores in Memphis and Jackson, Tenn., more than 76 search warrants at stores and residences and 35 arrest warrants were executed.

"Stopping the flow of synthetic drugs both domestically and internationally is a major focal point at DEA," said Michael J. Stanfill, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Nashville District Office, "This case was successful because of the true spirit of cooperation between all agencies involved."

"Project Synergy," a DEA initiative, is being called by law enforcement the "largest-ever coordinated law enforcement strike against designer drugs;" their sweep targeted manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of more than 250 synthetic drugs being used globally. Synthetic drugs are also referred to as bath salts, spice and potpourri.

"Today's indictments, arrests and seizures demonstrate that the manufacturing, distribution and purchase of these highly addictive and potentially lethal substances will not be tolerated, and those who are brazen enough to sell this poison, particularly to our children and young adults, will be held accountable," says U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III.

As a part of their ongoing investigation, investigators will continue following the financial trail as a result of these synthetic drug sales.

"The sellers of synthetic drugs specifically target our young people," says Weirich, "We will not sit back and ignore this threat to our children and to the entire community."

In a press release from Stanton's office, they released the businesses they executed search warrants at during their raid on Wednesday:

  • 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
  • Superway/On the Go, 151 Law Rd., Jackson, TN
  • Zazz Lube and Wash, 2739 N. Highland Ave., Jackson, TN
  • Citgo, 105/107 Carriage House Dr., Jackson, TN
  • McKenzies Food Fare/Market, 2857 Airways Blvd., Jackson, TN

Stanton's office also included the following individuals who 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, address, 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.

This investigation was conducted by the DEA Memphis Drug Task Force, the United States Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, the Bartlett Police Department, the Madison County Sheriff's Department, and the Jackson Police Department. These cases are being prosecuted for the government by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Scruggs and Assistant United States Attorney Matt Wilson.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty. They will go before a judge on July 1.

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