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Pinellas County
Ten arrested in Operation Spice King
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[Image]
Photo courtesy PCSO
Booking photos of 10 arrested during Operation Spice King are pinned to a map showing the manufacturing location (Pinellas County) and distribution locations in nine states, including Florida.
[Image]
Photo courtesy PCSO
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office displays some of the product seized during recent arrests of 10 people charged during Operation Spice King.
LARGO – Detectives with Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division arrested 10 suspects for sale and distribution of synthetic cannabinoids after a year-old multi-jurisdictional investigation.

All 10 were arrested in Pinellas County. According to the sheriff’s report, the suspects were manufacturing and packaging the synthetic cannabinoids in four locations throughout Pinellas County and distributing the product to at least four local convenient stores.

They were also shipping it to locations in eight states, including Nevada, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire.

The suspects were arrested between April 7 and April 8. The investigation began in June of 2013.

The joint investigation between the Sheriff’s Office, federal Drug Enforcement Administration and The Office of Statewide Prosecution began after a tip came in that Shamir Sultanali Nathani, 32, of Holiday was actively distributing synthetic cannabinoids in the Tampa Bay area and throughout the United States.

Nathani’s product was sold to an undercover operative in September, which tested positive for the substance AM2201. Subsequent seized packages tested positive for the substances UR144 and XLR11. These three substances are illegal under Florida law.

Detectives were then lead to a second suspect that Nathani was working for, who was identified as Pyarali Shamsuddin Heerani, 48, of Tampa.

The investigation continued and through various investigative techniques, eight other suspects were identified to be working under Heerani and Nathani. These eight suspects were involved in the manufacturing and distributing of synthetic cannabinoids in four different locations, which included two public storage facilities and two private residences.

Detectives said once the product was manufactured the suspects then distributed the product throughout Florida, including at least four local convenient stores and also shipped to eight different states to include Nevada, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire. According to detectives, the suspects shipped approximately 1,000 parcels from 2011 to 2014 via UPS. 67 kilos of finished product were seized during the investigation.

“For people who continue to sell this poison, they need to stop. They’re hurting the kids as they selfishly try to get rich quick. The only thing they are going to get themselves is a quick trip to jail,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri during a May 6 press conference. “They need to think who they are selling this to and if this was their son, their daughter, their brother, their sister who’s smoking this stuff. It is adversely affecting our community, it’s making people violent, it has delusional qualities to it, it is not marijuana, it doesn’t mellow people out and it really is a problem.”

The suspects were charged with the following.

• Pyarali Shamsuddin Heerani – One count of conspiracy to distribute synthetic cannabinoids. Heerani remains a fugitive on RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) charges.

• Shamir Sultanali Nathani – Two counts of conspiracy to distribute synthetic cannabinoids and violation of RICO

• Dadhichi Naik, 37, of Largo – conspiracy to commit racketeering

• Hasnain Brohi, 26, of Houston – conspiracy to distribute synthetic cannabinoids

• Farkunda Akhtar, 21, of Houston – possession of synthetic cannabinoid with intent to sell

• Hurara Hassan, 33, of Houston – possession of controlled substance with intent to sell/manufacture/distribute

• Akber Ghazanfer, 33, of Houston – possession of marijuana and possession of controlled substance with intent to sell

• Sheraz Khowaja, 26, of Houston – possession of controlled substance with intent to sell

• Trudy Nathani, 46, of Holiday – own/operate a residence for manufacturing narcotics

• Joanel Volcin, 35, of St. Petersburg – possession of controlled substance

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.
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