Local authorities arrested nearly 20 people and seized several thousand bags of K2 and nearly $700,000 in cash from 13 Tulsa convenience stores during raids Tuesday.
But the most important thing taken from the raids might be intelligence gathered as the search warrants were served. “Part of our investigation will be seeing if these stores and people were all communicating with each other,” Tulsa County Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark said.
“We know the drugs were coming from a central location. If we can show a connection, the Attorney General’s Office will take it and run with a RICO,” Clark said.
RICO — the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations — is a law allowing the government to charge a central figure based on what he or she might have ordered a subordinate to do. The Sheriff’s Office and the Tulsa Police Department served the search warrants Tuesday. The Sheriff’s Office announced the raids as law enforcers were storming into the stores. Along with the K2 — commonly referred to as “Spice” or “synthetic marijuana” — authorities pulled 12 “gaming machines” and trailers full of beer from the stores, Clark said.Investigators had determined during a previous task force operation to combat beer thefts from QuikTrip stores that beer stolen from that retailer was being traded for K2 at some of the stores raided Tuesday. The majority of the 19 people arrested live in either Tulsa or Broken Arrow, according to arrest reports. One person reported living in Chelsea and another in Claremore. The arrested suspects were listed in police reports as being from five countries: 11 were listed as being from Bangladesh, three from Pakistan, two from India, one from Mexico and one from Belize. One does not have a place of birth listed.
Undersheriff Tim Albin said the operation actually began in late 2011, and multiple arrest reports reference undercover buys done in the months leading up to Tuesday’s raids.
The main target was the nearly 340 pounds of synthetic drugs that authorities recovered.
Clark said the investigation began when authorities found a delivery of 150 pounds of synthetic drugs from China and “other foreign countries” to Oklahoma and numerous other states.
Synthetic drugs are criminalized in state statute based on the identity of chemical compounds they contain. However, producers of the drugs have historically been able to stay one step ahead of the law by changing one component of a compound, thereby making the product not illegal, if no less dangerous.
However, a number of the drugs taken from the stores Tuesday had also previously been purchased by undercover investigators and tested by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. When authorities re-entered the stores Tuesday, they were able to quickly determine which products contained the illegal compounds.
Clark said 12 illegal gambling machines, “approximately 40 cases of beer” and one firearm was seized in the raids.
Locations of raids, arrests:
Cardinal Corner, 14342 E. 11th St.
Jawad Ikram Malik (arrested at a residence based on information gathered from Alvarez arrest)
Super Star Food Mart, 935 S. Yale Ave.
Mohammad Mumunur Rashid
Md. Abu Kawsar
Roper’s Corner, 739 N. Lewis Ave.
Sajjad Ali Khan
R&R Food Store, 6110 S. Peoria Ave.
Shell Gas Station, 104 S. Utica Ave.
Kings Mart, 7138 E. 11th St.
R&R Food Mart, 2505 E. Pine St.
Apache Food Mart, 2474 N. Yale Ave.
Fast Trak, 3100 E. Pine St.
Md. Rasel Hossain
Muhammad Mumunoor Rashid
American Food and Gas Mart, 5918 E. Charles Page Blvd.
Daily Stop, 10559 E. 11th St.
S&K Food Mart, 2106 N. Sheridan Road
Kutubul Aman Qurashi
First Stop Food Store, 2024 E. Pine St.
Jose Rogelio Ortiz-Almanza
Dylan Goforth 918-581-8451
World Staff Writer
Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 3:47 pm, Thu Oct 9, 2014.
Personal note from the poster:
On this news article, I can comment exclusively that I have met some of these people that were listed in the arrests. It was under my gravest and most heartfelt attempts that I tried to convince them that they were playing with fire and would be busted for selling these products. They were not listening to reason when it came to giving some understanding that the compounds being utilized were likely leftovers and would result in batches containing illegal chemicals... regardless of what was being sold to them by the manufacturers in terms of false promises. Being told that it is "100% legal" and knowing precisely what is in the products are two different things entirely. It is without a doubt a shame that he did not listen, as the fellow was a good guy. He was just too blinded by money and wrapping himself with a firm sense of ignorance to the matter.
Let this be an anecdote to serve a lesson to anyone that is still messing with these products or thinking they are "legally sound." Believe me, you are not. A good guy will see a heap of jail time because he was too convinced that he was smarter than the law. As a former user of these drugs (and former user of drugs just in general), I will say that the damage caused is not worth it. People get sick from this. They nearly die too. I have seen it. I was not the healthiest, and all these folks were doing in the process of selling these products were playing into the ignorance of the users in terms of health and legality. The products result in damages both financially and personally. Nothing about these products were good, and I am glad and relieved that they are being pushed out of this city. Enough people were becoming addicted... even rehab centers were admitting more spice addicts here than for meth at this point...
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