February 19, 2019
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
Buffalo man sentenced for selling synthetic marijuana as a result of a DEA New York and DEA Los Angeles investigation
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan, United States Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division, and U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., announced that Fawzi Al-Arashi, 41, of Buffalo, N.Y., who was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who handled the case, stated that the investigation began in early 2012 when the Los Angeles Field Office of the DEA notified the DEA's Buffalo Resident Office of a suspected synthetic marijuana shipment destined for Buffalo. The package was delivered to the defendant at 3407 Delaware Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda, home of Town Tobacco.
Subsequent investigation revealed that Al-Arashi sold synthetic marijuana, also known as “Spice,” under such names as “Strawberry Flavored Potpourri,” “Tiger Shack,” “Atomic,” “G-20,” and “California Dreams” out of Town Tobacco on Delaware Avenue in Tonawanda and at Welcome Welcome on Main Street in North Tonawanda.
Throughout the investigation, police received numerous complaints regarding the stores. One woman called and stated that her son was in the Erie County Medical Center Psychiatric Ward after using synthetic marijuana that he bought at Town Tobacco.
On July 25, 2012, authorities executed a search warrant at a warehouse leased to the defendant, where he stored the synthetic marijuana, and found some 75 pounds of the products, which were typically sold in small sealed packets.
As part of the plea agreement, Al-Arashi forfeited more than $290,000 seized from various of his bank accounts as well as a 2012 Toyota Tundra.
“It is simple, synthetic marijuana is a toxic mix of hallucinogenic chemicals and plant materials,” said Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “This sentencing demonstrates the government’s commitment to keeping our communities safe by targeting those selling illegal substances.”
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Kennedy stated, “Despite the ‘green rush’ sweeping through our region of late, today’s sentencing makes two things crystal clear: (1) The manufacture and distribution of marijuana—whether real or synthetic—remain federal crimes; and (2) proceeds from the manufacture and distribution of marijuana remain subject to federal seizure and forfeiture.”
Today’s sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the DEA's Buffalo Resident Office, New York Division; the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team; the Tonawanda Police Department; the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police; the Amherst Police Department; and the Cheektowaga Police Department.