LARGO, Fla. (970 WFLA) – Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced 10 people have been arrested for the sale and distribution of fake pot during "Operation Spice King."
The year-long multi-jurisdictional investigation with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and The Office of Statewide Prosecution began after a tip came in that 32-year-old Shamir Sultanali Nathani was distributing synthetic cannabinoids in the Tampa Bay area and throughout the United States, according to authorities.
Detectives were then led to a second suspect that Nathani was working for, who was identified as 48-year-old Pyarali Shamsuddin Heerani, deputies said. Eight other suspects were identified to be working under Heerani and Nathani, deputies said, and they said these eight suspects were involved in the manufacturing and distributing of synthetic cannabinoids in four different locations which included two public storage facilities and two private residences.
PCSO said once the product was manufactured the suspects then distributed the product throughout Florida, including at least four local convenient stores and also shipped to eight different states to include Nevada, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire. According to detectives, the suspects shipped approximately 1,000 parcels from 2011 to 2014 via UPS. PCSO also said 67 kilos of finished product were seized during the investigation.
"For people who continue to sell this poison, they need to stop. They're hurting the kids as they selfishly try to get rich quick. The only thing they are going to get themselves, is a quick trip to jail. They need to think who they are selling this to and if this was their son, their daughter, their brother, their sister who's smoking this stuff. It is adversely affecting our community, it's making people violent, it has delusional qualities to it, its not marijuana, it doesn't mellow people out and it really is a problem" said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri during today's press conference.
PCSO said the suspects were arrested in Pinellas County on the following charges.
Pyarali Shamsuddin Heerani - Conspiracy to Distribute Synthetic Cannabinoids;
Shamir Sultanali Nathani - 2 Counts of Conspiracy to Distribute Synthetic Cannabinoids and Violation of RICO;
Dadhichi Naik - Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering;
Hasnain Brohi -Conspiracy to Distribute Synthetic Cannabinoids;
Farkunda Akhtar - Possession Synthetic Cannabinoid With Intent to Sell;
Hurara Hassan - Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell/Manufacture/Distribute;
Akber Ghazanfer - Charges: Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell;
Sheraz Khowaja - Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell;
Trudy Nathani - Own/Operate a Residence for Manufacturing Narcotics;
Joanel Volcin - Possession of Controlled Substance.
Pyarali Shamsuddin Heerani remains a fugitive on RICO charges at this time.
Photo Credit 970 WFLA/S. Parker