Raids on Mpls. tobacco shop, clerk's home net 80 lbs. of synthetic pot

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 28, 2012 - 8:35 PM

More than 80 pounds of synthetic marijuana were seized during a raid of a tobacco shop in a south Minneapolis strip mall and a clerk's suburban home, authorities said.

Mokrane Rahim, 30, of New Brighton, was charged Monday with fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance to a police officer and could face additional charges in connection with the selling of synthetic marijuana -- also known as "K2" or "420" -- at 46th and Nicollet Tobacco, police said.

As of Wednesday, the shop at 4612 Nicollet Av. S. was still open for business.

Its owner was not available to discuss the case. Rahim, who was bailed out of jail, also was unavailable for comment.

According to the criminal complaint:

After several tips to police and numerous undercover purchases of synthetic marijuana by a Minneapolis officer, authorities on Nov. 7 raided the shop and Rahim's home while Rahim was working. Along with the synthetic marijuana, they seized a Mercedes-Benz, jewelry and $232,000 in cash from the two locations.

About $200,000 was in a suitcase at Rahim's home.

Police said another $8,000 was in the shop's microwave oven.

Assisting Minneapolis police in the raids were police from Metro Transit and New Brighton, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI.

The raid comes amid a nationwide crackdown on what health experts consider the latest illegal drug epidemic: synthetic chemicals designed to mimic marijuana, Ecstasy and other illegal drugs.

Sold online and in stores as "incense," "bath salts," "plant food" and other products, the drugs have generated thousands of calls to poison control centers nationwide and linked to more than 20 deaths, including at least two in Minnesota.

PAUL WALSH

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