A prominent California cannabis investor and two associates have been arrested in connection with a plot to kidnap and murder a business partner. Salam Razuki, Sylvia Gonzales, and Elizabeth Juarez were arrested by federal agents earlier this month and conspiracy charges were filed against the defendants on Nov. 19, according to a release from federal prosecutors.
According to a complaint obtained by the Voice of San Diego, Razuki and Gonzales met with a confidential informant working with the FBI at a San Diego restaurant and asked the informant to kill a business associate identified by federal prosecutors only as N.M. The Voice of San Diego has reported that N.M. is Ninus Malan. Razuki and Malan are involved in civil litigation over the ownership of several San Diego legal cannabis businesses, including a dispensary.
At the meeting, Razuki and Gonzalez said they wanted the informant to “shoot him in the face,” or “to take him to Mexico and have him whacked” because of the civil suit, according to the release.
At a second meeting, Razuki and Gonzalez reiterated their desire that the informant kill Malan.
“You need to get rid of this asshole, he’s costing me too much money,” Gonzales said.
Hit Paid for with Dispensary Cash
At another meeting with the informant, Razuki and Gonzalez were joined by Juarez. They again said that they wanted Malan killed and that the informant should “put the turkey up to roast before Thanksgiving.”
The defendants offered to pay $2,000 for the murder, with $1,000 to be paid in advance. Gonzalez then went to the Goldn Bloom cannabis dispensary and returned with $1,000 in cash and two addresses for Malan. Pictures of the intended victim were also provided to the informant.
On Nov. 15, the informant met with Razuki to report that the job had been done.
“I took care of it,” the informant said.
“So he will take care of it, or it’s done?” Razuki asked.
“Done,” the informant replied.
The informant later asked Razuki if he wanted proof that Malan had been killed.
“No, I’m ok with it. I don’t want to see it.”
After Gonzalez was arrested, she “denied involvement in any conspiracy to kidnap and kill N.M,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Razuki has also denied any involvement in a conspiracy. Juarez allegedly told FBI agent that the group had “meetings and conversations about kidnapping and killing N.M., but said she didn’t think the group would actually go through with it.”
Defense attorney Allen Bloom, who represents Juarez said that his client has “never been in trouble, is a wonderful person and is completely innocent.”
“I’m convinced that by the end of this case, the evidence will show Elizabeth is not only not guilty, but she’s innocent,” Bloom said in a telephone interview. “The evidence will show she is not responsible for any part of any conspiracy or plot of any kind.”
An associate of Razuki, Tony Avila-Martin, said that the case is a matter of a joke being taken out of context.
“Salam is a businessperson who puts God first,” Avila-Martin said. “I’ve known him for two years and he’s never once asked me to do a violent thing.”