Owner of Fauquier County gas station pleads guilty to distributing spice
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Gainesville man pleaded guilty today to selling synthetic cannabinoids—commonly known as “spice” or “K2”—from the gas station he owned and operated with his business partner in Fauquier County.
“Spice is a toxic mix of dangerous chemicals that can be deadly,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger. “These chemicals can mimic the effects of PCP, a powerful and dangerous hallucinogenic. Many people wrongly assume spice is innocuous, and it is often our young people who fall victim to these illegal drugs, obtaining them at gas stations and convenience stores without any idea how dangerous they can be.”
According to court documents, Nasser A. Latif, 70, and his business partner have sold spice from their gas station, located in Warrenton, since 2012. Latif and his partner primarily sold 5-gram packets of spice, packaged in silver pouches bearing various logos, brand names, or images, including “Scooby Doo,” “Diablo,” “Bizarro,” and “24 Monkey.” The spice cost at least $53 per packet.
“We appreciate the tremendous working relationships with our law enforcement partners that resulted in holding these perpetrators accountable,” said Sheriff Robert P. Mosier of Fauquier County. “This investigation has undoubtedly saved lives by getting these synthetic or “designer drugs” off the street, which were responsible for medical occurrences, some even requiring hospitalizations. We will always work with vigilance for the continued protection of our community from those that would exploit the weaknesses associated with addictions.”
In December 2017, law enforcement seized more than seven kilograms of spice, as well as nearly $300,000 in cash from Latif’s residence, as well as approximately $118,000 from the gas station’s business account.
Latif pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute, Schedule I controlled substances and controlled substance analogues. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on March 27. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
DEA Washington Division Special Agent in Charge Jesse R. Fong, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger; Fauquier County Sheriff Robert P. Mosier, and ICE-HSI Washington Special Agent in Charge Raymond Villanueva made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine E. Rumbaugh and Bibeane Metsch are prosecuting the case.
This case was prosecuted as part of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Operation Scary Spice. The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
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