Three people have now been charged with selling synthetic pot laced with rat poison in Chicago.
Statewide, 56 people have been hospitalized and two have died from severe hemorrhaging after using synthetic marijuana, often known as Spice or K2. It is frequently sold at convenience stores and gas stations with names like Blue Giant, Crazy Monkey and Matrix, according to federal charges.
Illinois State Police and Chicago Police allegedly traced several of the cases to King Mini Mart in Lawndale, according to the Chicago Tribune. Owner Fouad Masoud, 48, and two employees, Jamil Abdelrahman Jad Allah, 44, and Adil Khan Mohammed, 44, each have been charged in federal court with conspiring to possess and distribute a controlled substance, punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.
An undercover buy handled by the Chicago Police Department found several packages of K2 on one of the employees and nearly 2,000 grams of the substance in a bucket behind the store, according to the Chicago Tribune. The undercover officer requested “the good stuff,” and was told that the under-the-counter price was $20. The officer purchased K2 twice, according to the affidavit acquired by ABC News, and found multiple packages laced with brodifacoum, a substance used in rat poison that causes hemorrhage.
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According to the affidavit, Jad Allah and Mohammed were arrested at their homes. Masoud was arrested outside his home with a large bag containing approximately $280,000, police said. All three men are in custody awaiting court hearings.
The two deaths occurred in Peoria County and Kane County, and cases have been reported in nine counties so far outside Chicago. Officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health warn that contaminated products could be in any county across the state.
The man-made “alternative to marijuana” is a chemical sprayed on dried plant material, then smoked or sold as liquid to be vaporized on e-cigarettes or other devices. Synthetic cannabinoids are found in drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, convenience stores, gas stations and online, according to IDPH.
Anyone who has purchased these products is warned not to use it. If you have used the product and start experiencing severe, unexplained bleeding or bruising, or any reaction to using a synthetic cannabinoid, you should call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately, according to IDPH.