Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Los Angeles noticed boxes of synthetic marijuana being shipped to the Buffalo area and tipped off authorities. That tip sparked an undercover investigation that began in February 2012.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul, the DEA and other local authorities announcing the arrest of 34 year old Fawzi Al-Arashi Wednesday.
Al-Arashi is suspected of operating a wholesale synthetic drug distribution business, allegedly selling the product at his store called Welcome, Welcome on Main Street in North Tonawanda and distributing orders to other retail locations throughout New York state.
Agents seized 30,000 packets of synthetic marijuana, large amounts of bath salts and tools to ingest the drugs from Al-Arashi's storage facility in Amherst.
Also, $725,000 in cash was seized from his bank accounts and more than $50,000 worth of silver bars and coins were confiscated from his Williamsville home.
"If the drugs that Mr. Al-Arashi sold caused serious bodily injury, which as I indicated in my opening remarks a judge might ultimately find the sale of these synthetic drugs carries a mandatory minimum 20 years in jail up to life in prisonment," said Hochul.
Al-Arashi also operated a store in the Town of Tonawanda called Town Tobacco.
At least two people reported medical injuries after taking drugs purchased there, one suffered an over-dose and the other ended up in the psychiatric ward.
Al-Arashi was released Wednesday after posting $15,000 bail and is expected back in court on July 27th.
This raid was part of a large scale federal crackdown with raids also happening in Central New York.
Joshua Denise, 37, of Batavia, N.Y., Michelle Condidorio, 30, of Leroy, N.Y., and Austin Szczur, 22 of Rochester, N.Y., were also arrested Wednesday.