Six Members Of National Drug Trafficking Organization Charged In Manhattan Federal Court
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Carl J. Kotowski, the Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging six defendants with operating a national drug trafficking organization that distributed synthetic cannabinoids. In conjunction with the unsealing of the Indictment, search warrants were executed at locations in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
HIKMAT HAMED, a/k/a “Abu Amjad,” was arrested by DEA agents this morning and will be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge David D. Noce in St. Louis, Missouri.
MOHAMMAD ABDELELAH AL BARBARAWI, a/k/a “Abu Yazan,” and HATEM K. EL HAJ, a/k/a “Tug Tug,” were arrested by DEA agents this morning and will be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole in Chicago, Illinois.
NEHAD THAHER, a/k/a “Nick,” SHADI SHUAIBI, and MAYTHEM AL ABOUDI were arrested by DEA agents this morning and will be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Colin H. Lindsay in Louisville, Kentucky.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Trafficking of synthetic cannabinoids – sometimes called K2 or Spice – is on the rise and posing a serious threat to public health and safety. Packaged attractively to appeal to teenagers and young adults, synthetic cannabinoids are in reality a toxic cocktail that can be very dangerous to consume. As alleged, thanks to our partners at the DEA, a sprawling operation of alleged traffickers has been dismantled.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski said: “This multi-jurisdictional investigation puts an end to this alleged drug trafficking organization. This is just another example of an organization allegedly more concerned about making a profit selling their poison than they are about the safety of the public.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal
Between October 2016 and May 2017, HIKMAT HAMED, a/k/a “Abu Amjad,” MOHAMMAD ABDELELAH AL BARBARAWI, a/k/a “Abu Yazan,” NEHAD THAHER, a/k/a “Nick,” SHADI SHUAIBI, HATEM K. EL HAJ, a/k/a “Tug Tug,” and MAYTHEM AL ABOUDI participated in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute leaves treated with 5F-MDMB-PINACA and FUB-AMB, each of which is an analogue of a schedule I controlled substance. Many of the synthetic cannabinoids the defendants distributed were packaged in packets that contained inaccurate descriptions of their contents and were misleadingly labeled as “Potpourri Product,” “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION,” and “complies with all federal and state legislation.”
Each of the defendants is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute controlled substance analogues, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the judge. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.
Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the DEA Newark’s Tactical Diversion Squad. Mr. Kim also thanked the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Indiana State Police, the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, the West Virginia State Police, as well as the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Northern District of Illinois, the Northern District of Indiana, the Southern District of Indiana, the Eastern District of Kentucky, the Eastern District of Missouri, the District of New Jersey, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin for their assistance in this investigation. He added that the investigation is continuing.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment constitutes only allegations, and every fact described herein should be treated as an allegation.