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Crime West Side shop owner given 7 years in prison for selling synthetic weed laced with rat poison

14:55  24 january  2020
14:55  24 january  2020 Source:   chicagotribune.com

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Convenience store owner Fouad Masoud was sentenced to seven years in prison at an emotional hearing Thursday in federal court for illegally Synthetic pot laced with a toxic substance often used as rat poison was being sold at the West Side convenience store, according to court records.

Bail was set at million Tuesday for a 31-year-old Hanover Park man who is charged with sex crimes against three young children, authorities said. West Side shop owner given 7 years in prison for selling synthetic weed laced with rat poison .

One victim started urinating blood soon after smoking illegal synthetic pot he bought at a West Side convenience store.

a person walking down a street in front of a building: King Mini Mart at 1303 S. Kedzie Ave. in Chicago is shown on April 3, 2018. Synthetic pot laced with a toxic substance often used as rat poison was being sold at the West Side convenience store, according to court records.© Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS King Mini Mart at 1303 S. Kedzie Ave. in Chicago is shown on April 3, 2018. Synthetic pot laced with a toxic substance often used as rat poison was being sold at the West Side convenience store, according to court records.

Doctors initially thought it was kidney stones, but it was later determined he’d ingested high concentrations of rat poison, the victim testified Thursday in federal court. Wracked with pain and bleeding uncontrollably, he nearly died in the hospital. The ordeal cost him his job as a union carpenter and led to bouts of depression. Now nearly two years later, he’s still trying to get back on his feet.

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West Side shop owner given 7 years in prison for selling synthetic weed laced with rat poison . Former Carol Stream man already in prison for child porn found guilty of sexual assault against girl.

Deadly synthetic marijuana known as K2 has been tied to two deaths and at least 56 illnesses in Chicago in But on Monday, local cops busted a convenience store selling packets of the substance that tested positive for chemicals found in rat poison . The store’s owner , Fouad Masoud—along

“After having almost lost my life, I am now fearful of the unknown,” the man, identified only as Victim A, told U.S. District Judge Manish Shah in a hushed voice.

The damage caused to victims of synthetic marijuana -- often referred to as K2 -- was the focus of an emotional sentencing hearing for convenience store owner Fouad Masoud, who pleaded guilty last year to selling the illegal substance from his King Mini Mart on South Kedzie Avenue.

In sentencing Masoud to seven years in prison, Shah said the emergence of “greedy black-market profiteers” selling K2 was a “recipe for disaster” and likely contributed to a public health crisis that included dozens of hospitalizations in central and northern Illinois and at least two deaths.

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The CDC has reported nearly 200 cases of brodifacoum poisoning caused by synthetic cannabis. The poison has killed at least four others. Federal agents arrested the men at the King Mini Mart convenience store in Chicago’s west side . According to media reports, the men had allegedly sold

Synthetic cannabinoids are a class of molecules that bind to the same receptors to which cannabinoids in cannabis plants THC and CBD attach. They are designer drugs, commonly sprayed onto plant matter and are usually smoked

While no deaths were tied directly to drugs sold at Masoud’s store, Shah said it was clear he was taking advantage of unsophisticated addicts who were looking for a cheap high.

“You didn’t know there was rat poison in it, but you also didn’t care what you were selling,” Shah said. “You didn’t care whether it was safe or healthy. ... It was just about money for you.”

Masoud, 49, pleaded guilty in September to drug conspiracy, admitting in a plea agreement with prosecutors that he sold up to 80 packages a day of unregulated synthetic pot that was often manufactured overseas and branded with names like “Matrix,” “Crazy Monkey” and “Scooby Snax.”

In asking for a sentence of 10 years in prison, prosecutors said that over a 2 1/2-year period beginning in late 2015, customers would line up outside the King Mini Mart every morning waiting for Masoud to arrive with a garbage bag filled with the illegal pot.

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Synthetic cannabinoids across Chicago and parts of central Illinois have been found to contain brodifacoum, a rat poison , according The US Attorney’s Office charged three men with federal drug offenses and accused them of conspiring to sell synthetic cannabinoids at a Chicago convenience

Masoud knew the drugs were banned and had even been cited for selling it before by the Chicago police. Employees told investigators he’d since kept the K2 hidden in a bucket buried in the ground behind the shop to avoid detection.

At least three customers -- including the victim who testified Thursday -- experienced severe symptoms after buying what was believed to be a “bad batch” of K2 from Masoud’s store, causing them to “nearly bleed to death,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing earlier this month.

The victims required blood transfusions and prolonged treatment to keep the poison at bay, including daily high-dosage shots of Vitamin K that cost nearly $400 apiece, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Hernandez wrote.

“Essentially they were being poisoned to death like rodents,” Hernandez said.

Many more victims likely got ill but were either unwilling or unable to testify, according to prosecutors.

Masoud’s attorney, Glenn Seiden, argued for a three-year prison term, saying “no nexus” existed between the rash of hospitalizations and drugs sold at Masoud’s store.

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an east side Milwaukee business and its owner over the sale of synthetic marijuana between 2011 and and owner David Kelly of Eugene, Oregon, liable for selling 60,006 packets of synthetic serious, unexplained bleeding linked to synthetic cannabinoids thought to be laced with rat poison

Synthetic cannabinoids across Chicago and parts of central Illinois have been found to contain brodifacoum, a rat They can cause serious side effects that are different from those of marijuana. One study of a A chemical in rat poison prevents blood from clotting, causing the severe bleeding

Seiden also noted that Masoud “risked his wealth and his health” to run his store in the disadvantaged Lawndale community for nearly 20 years.

Before he was sentenced, Masoud, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit and shackled at the ankles, made a brief statement to the court. He acknowledged that "maybe I got a bad batch” of K2 at some point but said that many more customers would have been sickened if it were as bad as prosecutors said.

“Only two people got sick. ... Where are the rest of them?” said Masoud, who has been in custody since his arrest in April 2018.

The Jordanian national, who will likely be deported once he’s done serving his sentence, did not apologize to several victims sitting in the courtroom gallery.

Masoud’s store came under investigation amid an escalating outbreak of K2-related sicknesses in 2018. At the time, nearly 100 people had reported symptoms, and the Cook County medical examiner’s office had confirmed that rat poison was found in the body of a 22-year-old Chicago man found dead in an Oak Lawn hotel room.

Meanwhile, after allegations surfaced about someone who had experienced adverse side effects after using synthetic pot purchased at King Mini Mart, an undercover officer was sent into the store and bought the drug. It was later found to contain rat poison, according to the criminal complaint filed against Masoud.

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The owner of a West Side mini mart and two employees were charged earlier this week with selling synthetic cannabis laced with rat poison . As of Thursday, 89 people in Illinois have reported severe bleeding after using synthetic cannabinoids, according to the Illinois Department of Public Heath.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Officials in New York are warning hospital emergency rooms about a new form of synthetic marijuana laced with rat poison that is Many different chemical compounds are used to manufacture so-called synthetic marijuana. While the substances are intended to mimic the effects of

When authorities went to arrest Masoud at his Justice townhouse, he was carrying a paper grocery bag filled with $344,000 in cash. Police searched his home and recovered about 6.4 pounds of suspected synthetic cannabis labeled “Purple Giant,” according to prosecutors.

Two of Masoud’s employees, Jamil Abdelrahman Jad Allah and Adil Khan Mohammed, were also charged and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.Both pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Jad Allah told agents that customers -- who sometimes ordered K2 by asking for “Starbucks” -- started to complain in 2018 about the quality of the product, according to an investigative report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration included in court records.

After agents shut down the store, Jad Allah told Masoud he had shown law enforcement where the synthetic pot was stashed, according to the DEA report.

‘You ruined my life!’” the report quoted Masoud as telling Jad Allah.

Later, while in a lockup awaiting a court hearing, Masoud allegedly told Jad Allah, “Don’t worry, we will get out. No one dies from K2."

jmeisner@chicagotribune.com

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