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Multi-Agency Effort Results in Seven Arrests on Narcotics Charges and the Seizure of Over 1,200 Packets of Synthetic Marijuana and Over $21,000

Contact: Major Todd Catlow, Detective Commander, Rhode Island State Police tcatlow@risp.dps.ri.gov Telephone: (401) 444-1005

Captain Michael C. Rheaume Detective Commander, Smithfield Police Telephone: (401) 231-2500

Major John Magiera Detective/Prosecution Division Commander, West Warwick Police Department Telephone: (401) 821-4323

Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner of Public Safety; Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, of the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General; Chief Richard P. St. Sauveur, Jr., Smithfield Chief of Police; and Colonel Richard G. Silva, West Warwick Chief of Police; announce the arrest of six men and one woman on drug distribution charges by members of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Smithfield Police Department and the West Warwick Police Department.

The arrests are the result of a coordinated effort to attack the prevalence of synthetic cannabinoids, a substance often referred to or marketed as "synthetic pot," "herbal incense," "spice" and "bath salts." These drugs are much more dangerous than their naturally occurring counterparts. Unlike the drugs they try to mimic, synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones have been known to cause people to become violent or delirious, and can also cause high blood pressure, vomiting, and a number of deadly health complications.

On February 14, 2014, members of the State Police HIDTA Task Force, Smithfield Police Department, West Warwick Police Department and the Foster Police Department executed court authorized search warrants at the following locations:

  • Twin River Mini Mart, 151 Douglas Pike, Smithfield
  • Star Petrol, 173 Danielson Pike, Foster
  • Convenience Plus, 177 Legris Avenue, West Warwick
  • Shell Fuel Station, 6 Providence Street, West Warwick

The search warrants resulted in the seizure of over 1,200 packets of synthetic marijuana and over $21,000 in United States currency.

The following people were arrested as a result of this continuing investigation:

Hassen Badshah Khan, age 55, of 33 Prospect Street, Apartment 401, Fall River, Massachusetts was arrested related to the alleged sale of synthetic marijuana at Twin River Mini Mart, 151 Douglas Pike, Smithfield. He will be arraigned for seven (7) counts of Delivery of a Schedule I Narcotic to an Undercover Police Officer and one count of Possession of a Schedule I Narcotic with Intent to Deliver in Third Division District Court later today.

Harry Gyuleseryan, age 24, of 17 Roma Street, East Providence, Rhode Island relating to the alleged sale of synthetic marijuana at Star Petrol, 173 Danielson Pike, Foster. He will be charged with Delivery of a Schedule I Narcotic to an Undercover Police Officer in Third Division District Court later today.

Paul Gyuleseryan, age 26, of 180 Cardinal Street, Cranston, Rhode Island relating to the alleged sale of synthetic marijuana at Star Petrol, 173 Danielson Pike, Foster. He will be charged with Delivery of a Schedule I Narcotic to an Undercover Police Officer in Third Division District Court later today.

Daniel Squires, age 29, of 180 Cardinal Street, Cranston, Rhode Island relating to the alleged sale of synthetic marijuana at Star Petrol, 173 Danielson Pike, Foster. He will be charged with Delivery of a Schedule I Narcotic to an Undercover Police Officer in Third Division District Court later today.

Karuna Mehta, age 43, of 205 Douglas Pike, North Smithfield, Rhode Island relating to the alleged sale of synthetic marijuana at Convenience Plus, 177 Legris Avenue, West Warwick. She will be charged with Delivery of a Schedule I Narcotic to an Undercover Police Officer in Third Division District Court later today.

Muhammad Abdul Jabbar, age 37, of 74 Lambert St, Apt. 101, Cranston, Rhode Island relating to the alleged sale of synthetic marijuana at Convenience Plus, 177 Legris Avenue, West Warwick. He will be charged with Delivery of a Schedule I Narcotic to an Undercover Police Officer in Third Division District Court later today.

Mian Saleen, age 29, of 128 Patriot Way, West Greenwich, Rhode Island relating to the alleged sale of synthetic marijuana at the Shell Fuel Station, 6 Providence Street, West Warwick. He will be charged with of Delivery of a Schedule I Narcotic to an Undercover Police Officer in Third Division District Court later today.

Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell stated, "I want to thank the members of the Smithfield Police Department, the West Warwick Police Department, the Foster Police Department and our HIDTA Task Force members for their the outstanding inter-agency cooperation as well as the hard work and dedication of the participants. I also would like to thank Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin for spearheading legislation enacted last year that placed synthetic cannabinoids on the highly regulated Schedule I drug list, and banned their manufacture, sale and use in Rhode Island.

"Synthetic drugs are the new frontier in the war on drugs. Addressing synthetic drug use by our youth and getting these drugs off convenience stores shelves has been a top priority for my office," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "The alleged illegal activity of selling these drugs over the counter by these individuals is akin to selling cocaine or heroin on the street corner. With the new law banning the manufacture and sale of these drugs, police and prosecutors now have the tools to rid our community of this illegal activity."

"I hope that the arrests send the message to the public that these substances are illegal and dangerous," said Colonel Richard G. Silva, West Warwick Chief of Police. "The arrests will provide a warning to those willing to sell them that we will continue to investigate those involved in the distribution of these synthetic drugs."

The HIDTA Task Force is managed by the Rhode Island State Police and comprised of members from Providence Police, Pawtucket Police, Johnston Police, Smithfield Police, Central Falls Police, North Providence Police, United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Rhode Island National Guard. This investigation owes its success to the outstanding inter-agency cooperation amongst all its participants as well as the hard work and dedication of the task force members.

Related links

Department or agency: Rhode Island State Police

Online: http://www.risp.ri.gov

Release date: 02-14-2014

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