Suburban Man Sentenced to Ten Years in Federal Prison for Manufacturing Synthetic Cannabinoids
CHICAGO — A south suburban man has been sentenced to ten years in federal prison for manufacturing synthetic cannabinoids into a smokeable drug known as K2, or “spice.”
KHALID HAMDAN, 51, of Justice, mixed the synthetic cannabinoids with leaves and other substances to create the drug. Hamdan then sold wholesale quantities of the drug to customers under various brand names, including “Diablo,” “Bomb Marley,” “Joker,” and “7H Hydro.”
U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah on Tuesday sentenced Hamdan to ten years in prison. It is the highest sentence to date in the Northern District of Illinois for manufacturing a synthetic cannabinoid.
The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Robert Bell, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Bridgeview Police Department initiated the investigation with the DEA. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit also assisted with the investigation.
“Synthetic cannabinoids are often falsely marketed as the ‘legal,’ equivalent alternative to marijuana, but the effects are much stronger, more adverse, and less predictable than marijuana,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly M. Greening and Matthew Schneider argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Defendant was a large-scale drug trafficker who manufactured and sold kilograms and kilograms of these drugs to customers across Illinois, Indiana and other states.”
A jury last year convicted Hamdan on one count of conspiracy to manufacture the synthetic cannabinoid XLR 11, and two counts of possessing XLR 11 with the intent to distribute.
Evidence at trial showed that Hamdan used storage units in Bridgeview and Chicago Ridge to manufacture and store the XLR 11 chemical and the finished K2 product. A law enforcement search of the Chicago Ridge storage unit in 2014 revealed tools and products for manufacturing the drugs, including the raw XLR 11 powder, cans of acetone, bottles of flavoring, boxes of untreated damiana tea leaves, and boxes for packaging.
Once manufactured, the drug was sold to consumers in baggies with professionally printed, animated designer labels.