10 indicted in synthetic 'K2' drug ring that spanned 5 New York City boroughs

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Rob Nelson is in Pelham Bay with more (WABC)

The use of synthetic weed, known on the street as K2 or spice, has become a deadly epidemic in New York City and across the country.

Wednesday, officials announced the results of a yearlong crackdown and put stores on notice that they too could be busted if they don't take this poison off their shelves.

More than 90 stores and warehouses across New York City have been raided since Tuesday. Officials busted a synthetic marijuana ring they say was worth up to $30 million.

10 men have been charged in the scheme, six of them arrested. All of them were allegedly part of an international ring to import, manufacture and distribute synthetic marijuana in bodegas, delis, and convenience stores in all five boroughs.

Defendants Abdullah Deiban, Faris Nasser Kassim, Morad Nasser Kassim, Nageab Saeed, Walide Saeed, Mohomed Saeed, Hamid Moshref, Mohamed Salem, Mohamed Almatheel and Fikri Nagi, are accused of being members of an international organization that trafficked, manufactured, and distributed the synthetic drugs. They face charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics.

According to Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, the ring was involved in at least 100 kilograms of illegal synthetic drugs, known as synthetic marijuana, between September 2014 to September 2015. The ring operated in all five boroughs of New York City, he said.

"Synthetic cannabinoids are a deadly serious problem that demands an equally serious response," said Bharara. "Today's collective action is just the start of that response, one that will not end until this poison in a packet no longer endangers our community."

The raids took place in bodegas in Washington Heights and East Harlem, and a building in the Bronx, where officials gave the media a glimpse of towers of materials and Chinese chemicals used to make the product.

The potentially deadly mix has now fallen into the hands of teenagers, the homeless and into prisons, officials saying use of the drug has become an epidemic in our city.

The health risks are staggering: seizures, heart attacks, strokes, and even death. Officials say Wednesday's raids and indictment are just the beginning and stores selling this stuff should consider themselves warned.

Not only is the drug easy to find and cheap at about $5 a bag, it's also marketed using kid-friendly names, even fruit flavors. In actuality though, it's an unregulated and potentially deadly poison.

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synthetic marijuananew york newsarrestdrug bustk2New York City
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