Drug Enforcement Administration

New Jersey

Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge

November 09, 2016

Contact: Timothy P. McMahon

Phone Number: (973) 776-1100

New York Man Admits Distribution Conspiracy Involving More Than 10 Kilograms Of Synthetic Designer Drugs

NEWARK, N.J. - - Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division and Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey announced a Queens, New York, man today admitted his role in a scheme to distribute controlled substance analogues, which are designer drugs that have chemical structures and hallucinogenic effects similar to Schedule I controlled substances.

Elmostafa Charif, 37, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to a two-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute, and possessing with intent to distribute, the controlled substance analogues NM2201 and 5F-AMB. NM2201 and 5F-AMB which are most closely related to synthetic Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the main mind altering ingredient in marijuana.

Since February 2011, the Drug Enforcement (DEA) has been investigating the importation, distribution, and use of designer drugs popularly known as synthetic cannabinoids. “K2” and “Spice” are common examples of synthetic cannabinoids.

Synthetic cannabinoids are created when damiana leaves - an inert, plant-like substance - are sprayed with controlled substance analogues and treated with synthetic flavoring. The damiana leaves do not possess any of the mind altering substances that the marijuana plant contains. The flavored and treated damiana leaves are then smoked by users.

Charif admitted that, on April 13, 2015, he conspired with others to purchase and distribute approximately 10 kilograms of synthetic cannabinoids, including approximately five kilograms of NM2201 and approximately five kilograms of 5F-AMB. Charif also admitted that he purchased liquid flavoring and damiana leaves with the controlled substance analogues, knowing that they would be used to create a product that was smoked or otherwise consumed by users.

NM2201 and 5F-AMB are each controlled substance analogues as defined under the Analogue Act due to the fact that both NM2201 and 5F-AMB have chemical structures and hallucinogenic properties similar to the Schedule I controlled substances 5F-PB-22 and ADB-PINACA, respectively.

Both counts of the indictment to which Charif pleaded guilty carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 22, 2017.

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