Convenience Store Owner Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Distribute Spice
BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt and Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that Adel Abdullah, 32, of Lackawanna, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, controlled substance analogues, before Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wei Xiang, who is handling the case, stated that the conspiracy involved the sale of synthetic cannabinoids, also known as “spice,” at the Speedy Market, a convenience store at 1799 Genesee Street in Buffalo in 2011 and 2012. Abdullah owned and operated the store. The defendant regularly ordered shipments of the spice from sources across the country. Abdullah and his clerks then sold the spice as potpourri not for human consumption, yet gave customers complimentary cigars as rolling paper to smoke the spice.
By 2012, spice and the myriad chemicals used to approximate its marijuana effect were becoming a major public health hazard. In April 2012, an Erie County health inspector served an order on Abdullah’s store from the New York State Department of Health banning the sale of spice. Yet in May 2012, the store still sold spice and agents still found stockpiles of synthetic cannabinoids and packaging material at the store and at Abdullah’s home. Agents also recovered a package containing 2400 vials of synthetic cannabinoids, invoiced by a New Mexico supplier on May 15, 2012. According to invoices and other records in the case, some of what was being sold at Abdullah’s store for $10 per vial or packet only cost him $2.50.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, New York Division and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police, under the direction of Chief George Gast.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. before Judge Skretny.