Eight Central Pennsylvania Men Indicted, $6 Million Seized in Federal Bath Salts Prosecution
A federal grand jury in Harrisburg has returned a multi-count indictment charging eight men with participation in the unlawful distribution of the controlled substance referred to in drug parlance as "bath salts," as well as synthetic marijuana.
It is alleged that the activities took place in Dauphin, Cumberland, Lebanon, Mifflin and Lancaster Counties.
United States Attorney Peter J. Smith announced that the indictment was returned by the grand jury on April 4, 2012 but was kept under seal to allow law enforcement agencies to arrest those indicted, to execute eight search warrants simultaneously in multiple locations and to coordinate the seizure of over $6 million dollars of suspected drug-related funds in banks in Pennsylvania and Texas.
Charged were Kulwinder Singh Grewal, 38, Myerstown; Amarjit Singh Grewal, 32, Ephrata; Jesse Roldan, 40, Jim Thorpe; Steven Accardi, 30, Willow Street; Fatra Jaswinder, 41, Ranshaw; Baljeet Singh, 42, Lancaster; Inderjit Jassal, 31, Richfield; and Slimane Belabbas, 34, Ranshaw.
All but Jassal and Belabbas were arrested and appeared last week before Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson in Harrisburg. Kulwinder Singh Grewal and Amarjit Singh Grewal were ordered held without bail pending trial. The other defendants were released on bail. Jassal appeared before Magistrate Judge Carlson today. Belabbas whereabouts are unknown.
Trial is scheduled to commence before Chief Judge Yvette Kane on June 4, 2012.
All of the defendants are charged with the alleged unlawful distribution of controlled substances, use of a communication facility to carry out that offense, criminal conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and distributing and conspiring to distribute misbranded drugs in Central Pennsylvania between May 2011 and March 2012.
If convicted, each defendant faces a combined maximum term of imprisonment of 52 years and fines totaling $2,750,000. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $1,000,000.
The indictment alleges that the defendants participated in the distribution of a chemical relative of Methcathinone and MDPV, controlled substances often referred to as "bath salts" and "jewelry cleaner" when sold at mini-markets and convenience stores.
The indictment also alleges the defendants were involved in the unlawful distribution of synthetic marijuana intended for human consumption and sold commercially under names such as "Purple Haze Kryptonite", "Bangkok Chill", "Tigers Blood Kryptonite" and similar names.
The charges were the result of "Operation Rubber Ducky" which was run by the United States Department of Justice's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). United States Attorney Smith stated that the substances are very dangerous to users, law enforcement and the general public and that alleged illegal distribution of them will be prosecuted as forcefully as possible by his office.
The U.S. Attorney's Office commended the coordinated work of the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration-Office of Criminal Investigations, the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Dauphin and Cumberland County Drug Task Forces, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Lancaster and Lebanon County Drug Task Forces, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, the Lewistown Police Department and Drug Task Force, and police departments from Coal Township, Elizabethtown and Ephrata.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office's Victim Rights and Asset Recovery Unit.
An Indictment or Information is not evidence of guilt but simply a description of the charge made by the Grand Jury and/or United States Attorney against a defendant. A charged Defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the United States has proven the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant has pled guilty to the charges.
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