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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 17, 2015

Smoke Shop Owner And Employee Charged With Conspiring To Distribute Synthetic Drugs That Led To Death Of Area Youth

CHICAGO — A former smoke shop owner and her employee were charged by criminal complaint yesterday for allegedly conspiring to distribute substances containing controlled substance analogues at the Cigar Box, a store formerly located in the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, federal law enforcement officials announced today.

Ruby Mohsin, 52, of Glen Ellyn, and Mohammad Khan, 63, of Glendale Heights, were charged with conspiracy in United States District Court in Chicago.  Both defendants will make their initial appearance at a date yet to be determined in U.S. District Court. According to the affidavit, between March 1, 2011 and August 12, 2011, defendant Mohsin purchased hundreds of packages of synthetic drugs such as iAroma and Zero Gravity containing controlled substance analogues from an Iowa-based manufacturer and distributor.  

According to the affidavit, synthetic cannabinoids (sometimes referred to as synthetic marijuana) are a large family of substances with chemical structures similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis that mimic the effects of THC by acting on the same receptors in the central nervous system.  Synthetic cannabinoid chemicals are typically manufactured in China and shipped to the United States in powder form.   The powder is then mixed with acetone and sprayed on plant material such as marshmallow leaf and packaged for sale.   These new drugs (or analogues) are not listed in the Controlled Substance Act, but still have the same dangerous effects as the scheduled substances or compounds.  Accordingly, in 1986, Congress enacted the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act to address this issue.

On June 14, 2011, Mohsin sold three one-gram packages of “iAroma Hypnotic,” “iAroma Train Wreck,” and “iAroma Mango,” containing the controlled substance analogue JWH-210 for the sale price of $20 to 19-year old Max Dobner and a friend.   Shortly afterwards, Max Dobner smoked a portion of the package of iAroma Hypnotic, suffered a severe adverse reaction, and died when he crashed his car into a house in North Aurora, Illinois.  The FDA laboratory determined that the packages of iAroma Hypnotic, iAroma Train Wreck, and iAroma Mango that Mohsin sold to Max Dobner contained the controlled substance analogue JWH-210.   A toxicology examination revealed the presence of JWH-210 in Max Dobner’s blood at the time of his death and no other drugs or alcohol.

According to the complaint affidavit, Mohsin and Khan continued to offer synthetic drugs containing controlled substance analogues for sale at the Cigar Box after Max Dobner’s death.  On August 4, 2011, Khan sold two packages of “Head Trip” and “Kush Potpourri” containing the controlled substance analogue JWH-122 for $30 to an undercover Aurora Police officer. 

The charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois;  Dennis Wichern, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Drug Enforcement Administration; John Redmond, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations in Chicago, and Stephen Boyd, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation Division. The Kane County Sheriff’s Office, the Aurora Police Department, the Yorkville Police Department, and the Bettendorf, Iowa Police Department also assisted in the investigation.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Schneider.

The charge in the criminal complaint carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that a criminal complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Complaint

Updated July 24, 2015