You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 19, 2015

Five Members Of Synthetic Drug Distribution Conspiracy Indicted For Selling Millions Of Dollars Of Illegal Cannabinoids

Drugs manufactured by owner of “Smokes 4 Less” smoke shops

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced an indictment charging OMAR ZIAD WAZWAZ, 33, and four others with conspiring to distribute synthetic cannabinoids. The defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute controlled substance analogues, conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. WAZWAZ is additionally charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The defendants are making initial appearances in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn.

“Synthetic and designer drugs are both illegal and dangerous,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “As alleged, these defendants created a criminal enterprise they believed would stay one step ahead of synthetic drug laws. It didn’t, and today they stand charged with conspiracy to sell illegal cannabinoids throughout Minnesota. The investigators who brought down this conspiracy are tireless, and this indictment should give pause to anyone who thinks they can get away with selling drugs by another name.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, beginning in approximately January 2010, OMAR ZIAD WAZWAZ owned and operated several smoke shops throughout Minnesota, including “Smokes 4 Less” in Mankato. WAZWAZ sold smokable synthetic cannabinoids (SSCs) in his smoke shops. Beginning in 2011, WAZWAZ began to manufacture his own brand of SSC called, “Kyptonite.” He branded the SSCs sold in his stores with such names as “Kush,” “Tiger’s Blood,” “Grape,” “Kronik,” “Man of Steel,” “Pine-apple,” “Juicy Fruit,” “Kottonmouf King,” “Tropic Thunder,” “Rain of Fire,” “O-Zone,” and others. Through the manufacture and sale of SSCs, WAZWAZ earned millions of dollars.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, TALEB AWAD, VLADIMIR BRIK, STEVEN LYKE, and DANIEL LYKE conspired with WAZWAZ to manufacture and sell SSCs. The defendants manufactured SSCs by combining synthetic cannabinoids such as “AM-2201,” “UR-144,” and “XLR-11,” with leafy plant material like damiana or marshmallow leaves. The synthetic cannabinoids, which are often sold in powder form, were liquefied with the use of a solvent like acetone or grain alcohol so that the chemicals could be sprayed onto the leafy plant material. This manufacturing process allows users to ingest the drug in the same manner as one would ingest marijuana. WAZWAZ instructed employees of “Smoke 4 Less” to smoke SSCs and report back to him on the effects so that he could adjust the formula as needed.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, BRIK, WAZWAZ and other co- conspirators also imported synthetic cannabinoids from China. On or about April 5, 2011, BRIK sent a wire transfer of $110,000 to a bank in the country of Liechtenstein to pay for an order of approximately 20 kilograms of synthetic cannabinoid that BRIK requested be sent to WAZWAZ’S store in Mankato, Minn.

The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Surya Saxena.


Defendant Information:

OMAR ZIAD WAZWAZ, 33
New Brighton, Minn.

Charges:
• Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance Analogues, 1 count
• Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, 1 count
• Conspiracy to Commit Offenses against the United States: Misbranded Drugs, 1 count
• Money Laundering Conspiracy, 1 count

VLADIMIR VLADIMIROVIC BRIK, 25
Duluth, Minn.

Charges:
• Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance Analogues, 1 count
• Conspiracy to Commit Offenses against the United States: Misbranded Drugs, 1 count
• Money Laundering Conspiracy, 1 count

TALEB JAMAL AWAD, 32
Unknown

Charges:
• Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance Analogues, 1 count
• Conspiracy to Commit Offenses against the United States: Misbranded Drugs, 1 count
• Money Laundering Conspiracy, 1 count

STEVEN JAU LYKE, 25
Brookston, Minn.

Charges:
• Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance Analogues, 1 count
• Conspiracy to Commit Offenses against the United States: Misbranded Drugs, 1 count
• Money Laundering Conspiracy, 1 count

DANIEL LEE LYKE, 26
Brookston, Minn.

Charges:
• Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance Analogues, 1 count
• Conspiracy to Commit Offenses against the United States: Misbranded Drugs, 1 count

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

 

Component(s): 
Updated April 30, 2015