Three store clerks charged with selling deadly synthetic marijuana were arrested by federal agents in Chicago on Monday. The arrests come after a rash of hospitalizations and two deaths caused by the illicit drug. Lab tests revealed that packages of the synthetic cannabinoids contained a deadly chemical used in rat poison.
Federal agents arrested three men who work at the King Mini Mart convenience store in Chicago’s west side. According to media reports, the men had allegedly sold packets of “spice” to undercover officers posing as customers. Law enforcement subsequently arrested Fouad Masoud, 48, Jad Allah, 44 and Adil Khan Mohammed, 44. Masoud had $280,000 in cash in his possession when police arrested him.
The store had offered for sale several different brands of the fake pot before the arrests on Monday.
“The synthetic cannabinoids were packaged in sealed containers and labeled with such names as ‘Matrix,’ ‘Blue Giant’ and ‘Crazy Monkey,’” federal agents said.
The agents also said that the “spice” they had seized was dangerously tainted.
“Preliminary testing of some of the cannabinoids purchased by the undercover officer revealed a detectable amount of brodifacoum, a toxic substance frequently used in rat poison.”
Fake Pot Caused Bleeding Eyes, Then Death
Since March 7 of this year, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received reports of 56 cases of serious health problems in people after using spice. Patients reported uncontrolled bleeding from the eyes, ears, and mouths. Internal bleeding subsequently killed two of the victims.
The IDPH reported online that the issue may be a statewide problem.
“While many of the cases report acquiring the synthetic cannabinoid products in the Chicagoland area, contaminated products could be in counties across the state. Individuals reported obtaining synthetic cannabinoid products from convenience stores, dealers, and friends.”
Dr. Nirav D. Shah is the Director of the IDPH. He said in a press release that the wide availability of spice leads many people to believe the products are safe. But that clearly is not the case.
“Despite the perception that synthetic cannabinoids are safe and a legal alternative to marijuana, many are illegal and can cause severe illness,” said Shah. “The recent cases of severe bleeding are evidence of the harm synthetic cannabinoids can cause.”
Officials reported that three patients and packages of spice had tested positive for the substance brodifacoum. The deadly chemical is a constituent of rat poison and other pesticides.
As a Vitamin K antagonist, it interferes with the nutrient’s effect on vital bodily processes such as blood clotting.
Exposure to the chemical can consequently cause widespread and uncontrollable bleeding.
Doctors treat patients poisoned by brodifacoum by administering high doses of Vitamin K for a period of months. Patients often relapse because the chemical can take a long time to leave the body.
Final Hit: Three Store Clerks Charged With Selling Deadly Synthetic Marijuana
Prosecutors charged the three men with conspiracy to knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, a controlled substance. They are currently awaiting legal representation and hearings in federal court.
The IDPH has warned anyone who may have recently purchased synthetic marijuana not to use it. The health department also urged anyone who has used spice and suffered unexplained bleeding or bruising to seek medical attention.