St. Joseph man sentenced for $6 million synthetic cannabinoid conspiracy

 

Date: January 2, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

A St. Joseph, Missouri, man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute nearly $6 million of synthetic cannabinoid products, also known as K2.

Shakeel Khan, 42, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to three years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Khan to forfeit to the government $2,005,239 that was seized by law enforcement during the investigation and to pay a money judgment of $4,750,000, which accounts for all K2-related deposits associated with his bank accounts.

Co-defendants Mohammed Saleem, 46, of Diamond Back, California, and Asif Saddiq, 61, of Fullerton, California, each were sentenced in December 2019 to four years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered both Saleem and Saddiq to pay a money judgment for which they are jointly and severally liable with Khan.

Khan, Saleem, and Saddiq each pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute misbranded drugs across state lines from March 1, 2011, to April 30, 2014. They also each pleaded guilty to participating in a money-laundering conspiracy that involved payments totaling nearly $500,000 to bank accounts in Pakistan.

Khan, Saleem, and Saddiq admitted that they distributed synthetic cannabinoid products, a controlled substance analogue. The synthetic cannabinoid products had false and misleading labeling in that they were labeled in a manner indicating they were not fit for human consumption when, in fact, the synthetic marijuana products were intended for human consumption. This labeling caused the synthetic marijuana products to be misbranded in violation of federal law.

Saleem began producing synthetic cannabinoids in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2009, where he met Khan. Saleem's company was MNZ WHOLESALE AND DISTRIBUTION. The following year Saleem moved to Texas to continue producing synthetic cannabinoids, while Khan continued to assist him with his operation in Kansas City. Saleem met Siddiq at a trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2011, after which he moved his operation to Los Angeles, California, and partnered with him. They ran a company called S&S Memon, Inc., DBA LA BLAZE. An affiliated company of LA BLAZE was S&S MEMON DBA LAWORLD SPICE. Another affiliated company was called LA PARADISE and MNZ WORLD SPICE. They were producing synthetic cannabinoids and during this time were producing 50,000 bags of K-2 six days a week.

In the fall of 2011, Khan traveled to Los Angeles to operate a K-2 business and opened K BROTHERS IMPORTS, INC. Saleem then put his business MNZ WHOLESALE AND DISTRIBUTION in Khan's name.

Saleem travelled to China to purchase the chemicals needed to produce the synthetic cannabinoids. Court documents cite 16 wire transfers, totaling $1,725,250, to purchase chemicals from individuals in China from November 2011 to March 2012. Some of the chemicals that were used in the production of synthetic cannabinoid products constituted analogues to banned chemicals and were thus illegal to distribute or sell by the defendants.