San Antonio-based drug syndicate busted

19 charged with making, distributing synthetic marijuana

SAN ANTONIO – Federal and local law enforcement officials announced the results Wednesday of what officials called a major operation targeting the distribution and manufacture of synthetic marijuana by one drug syndicate in the San Antonio area.

Officials said the group, led by Muhammad Jaffer Ali and including 18 others, produced the drugs locally, and sold them both in San Antonio and around in surrounding cities and states, including Houston and Oklahoma City.

Their revenues were estimated to be in the millions.

The charges were laid out in an 86-page criminal complaint filed in federal district court by the local US Attorney's office.

Jaffer Ali is accused of coordinating a far-flung organization, with components stretching as far as Kentucky, where the complaint alleges the group's main chemical supplier is based.

The drugs were manufactured in a home on the 6600 block of Topper Run, and officials said it was under surveillance for some time.

The products were then distributed to stores for sale, including the Best Foods #2 store at 410 and Evers. 

The store, owned by Jaffer Ali, was raided in February of this year by SAPD, who seize nearly $500,000 worth of synthetic marijuana. 

No charges were files at the time, however, and just a month later, KSAT hidden cameras captured the products still displayed prominently on store shelves.

Other stores selling the products were the Hang Ten Smoke Shop and Gloria's  Food Mart, which were among the 22 locations raided Wednesday morning.

The local raids were part of a nation-wide effort announced today, dubbed Operation Synergy.

The suspects began making their initial appearances in federal court this afternoon. That process will continue tomorrow.

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