WASHINGTON — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, DC, office today announced the arrests of two individuals in connection with a seizure of approximately 265 pounds of synthetic drugs with an estimated street value worth $2.3 million in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Narcotics and Special Investigations Division. The largest single seizure of synthetic drugs in the district to date contained 19,247 packets of “Bizarro” drugs, which analysis revealed to be XR-11, a schedule 1 controlled substance.
On Monday, MPD detectives with assistance from HSI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents arrested Siraj Issa, 33, of Northwest, DC, and Yenework Abera, 41, of Alexandria, Virginia, in Northwest, DC. They have been charged with possession with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoids.
“Synthetic drugs pose a serious public health and safety issue to our communities,” said Clark Settles, special agent in charge of HSI Washington, DC. “This operation’s success is a testament to the excellent working relationship between our agencies and sends a clear message to anyone involved in illicit drug trade that we are united in our efforts to disrupt and dismantle their operations.”
The drugs were seized Aug. 27, after Maryland State Police encountered the cannabinoid during an enforcement action. The shipment was sent to a D.C. address. HSI’s coordination with MPD and DEA resulted in the two arrests.
“The seizure of such a large amount of synthetic drugs is a relief to both the MPD and the community,” said MPD Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. “The hard investigative work that our members pride themselves on has potentially saved countless lives and helped to stem the violence that goes hand in hand with the selling and consumption of illegal drugs.”
“Through this extraordinary coordination between DEA, HSI, and MPD, nearly 500 pounds of this lethal drug will never touch the streets of DC,” said Karl C. Colder, special agent in charge of the DEA Washington field division. “Ruthless drug dealers are marketing these drugs as a harmless substance. Make no mistake, synthetic cannabinoids are a poison. DEA stands strong with our partners in combating synthetics, and will use all of our resources to bring traffickers of this drug to justice.”
“The charges filed today reflect our steadfast commitment to dealing with the serious problem of synthetic cannabinoids,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen, Jr. “Whether it has been educating our citizens throughout the District of Columbia about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids or pursuing local and federal investigations to target the distributors and street sellers of this dangerous drug, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has been aggressively attacking this problem at all fronts. And we will continue to do so to keep our community safe.”