January 13, 2020
Local gas station co-owner guilty of synthetic ‘pot’ sales
The Valero station south of Warrenton sold “spice” or “K2” synthetic marijuana for at least $53 per packet, according to federal law enforcement authorities.
ALEXANDRIA — A Gainesville man pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to selling synthetic cannabinoids— commonly known as “spice” or “K2” — from the gas station south of Warrenton that he owned and operated with his business partner.
Spice is a toxic mix of dangerous chemicals that can be deadly. These chemicals can mimic the effects of PCP, a powerful and dangerous hallucinogenic.
— U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger
“Spice is a toxic mix of dangerous chemicals that can be deadly,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “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.”
Nasser A. Latif, 70, and his business partner had sold spice from their gas station, the Valero on Route 29 between Opal and Warrenton, since 2012, authorities said. Mr. 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,” Sheriff Bob Mosier said. “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.”
Raymond Villanueva, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in the Washington, D.C., field office said: “For years, these individuals sold their illicit products in our community, profiting from their toxic and deadly goods. HSI is committed to taking individuals peddling dangerous substances off our streets.”
In December 2017, law enforcement seized more than seven kilograms of spice, as well as nearly $300,000 in cash from Mr. Latif’s residence, as well as approximately $118,000 from the gas station’s business account.
Mr. 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.
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JessyWhite · January 14, 2020 at 5:29 am
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peteg01 · January 13, 2020 at 5:45 pm
I really appreciate Sheriff Mosier's comments about the interagency cooperation and his language about "exploiting the weaknesses associated with addiction." Once again, the FCSO is a model of what local law enforcement can be.
Truepat · January 13, 2020 at 12:20 pm
Great job LE!!
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