From left, Ibrahim Saraeb, Amad Almadanali and Ali Saraeb-Perez
LARGO – After a yearlong undercover operation investigating illegal drug and EBT card sales at Sunshine Food Mart, Largo Special Operations detectives arrested three associates March 28 at the gas station and convenience store at 1595 Seminole Blvd.
Largo Police Department received multiple tips about the sale of narcotics and trafficking of Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, cards at the business, which also is called SuperAM.
During their investigation, detectives reportedly learned customers needed a password or be known personally by management to purchase drugs or sell EBT benefits to the operators of the business. Police were able to gain the trust of the suspects and began buying Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids in the second half of 2013.
After establishing trust, the Special Operations unit started to sell traceable EBT cards to the business for 50 cents on the dollar. They obtained the cards with the help from Division of Public Assistance Fraud in the Florida Department of Financial Services.
SuperAM management used the benefits to purchase merchandise to stock the shelves of the store. Also, family members and employees of the business used the cards for personal food purchases.
The Largo Special Operations unit served a search warrant at the store at 11 a.m. March 28, assisted by Florida Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, the state Division of Insurance Fraud and city code enforcement.
Police found narcotics and purchased EBT cards. The business also was cited for numerous civil code violations.
They arrested three people, charged with various felonies. Ibrahim Saraeb, 47, of Clearwater was charged with trafficking in counterfeit credit cards, two counts of possession, one count for the sale of a schedule 1 drug, as well as one count of being a principle to sale of a schedule 1 substance.
Amad Almadanali, 47, of Largo was charged with a scheme to defraud, two counts of both the possession of and sale of a schedule 1 substance. Ali Saraeb-Perez, 25, who, according to Pinellas County Jail records, lives with Saraeb, was charged with a scheme to defraud.
The investigation is still ongoing, and additional felony charges are pending, police reported.