Two more men have been charged with felony drug trafficking after a Tuesday raid of two convenience stores.
Ziyad Hirbawi, 54, and Khalid Altemimi, 51, both were charged after synthetic marijuana was found in the 611 Market, 1550 Colorado Ave. Hirbawi is the store owner. Altemimi is one of his employees.
The 611 Market was raided in June, and Hirbawi was charged with receiving stolen property after an investigation determined he was buying and selling stolen goods. Police said the store’s parking lot is also a known location for heroin dealing and use and in 2013 a man overdosed in the parking lot.
Walid Habbas, 54, owner of Lorain Deli, 2225 W. 21st St., also was charged Tuesday with drug trafficking.
Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said more than six pounds of synthetic marijuana were found in the stores, 3.7 pounds at the Lorain Deli and 2.9 pounds at the 611 Market. The drugs have a total street value of $21,500, he said.
“That’s a substantial amount,” Costantino said. “It’s what we went looking for, and we didn’t find anything else.”
Costantino said detectives are trying to determine from where the store’s owners purchased the synthetic marijuana. He said the owners had it in bulk and were packaging the drugs themselves.
The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act outlawed synthetic marijuana, sometimes known as spice, which has chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana, in 2012.
According to information provided by police, synthetic marijuana can be 16 times more potent than marijuana and is known to cause vomiting, seizures, psychotic episodes, extreme changes in behavior, heart problems and has a tendency to be highly addictive.
Nine people, including two juveniles, overdosed on synthetic marijuana in 11 days and were admitted to area hospitals. Police were led to the stores after Elyria resident Jeffrey Perkins Jr., 19, was arrested and charged with felonious assault after he was accused of selling it to three of the people who overdosed.
“We’ve talked to a few people who have been on this, and they say it’s a bad experience with hallucinations and loss of bodily function,” Costantino said. “This is a very dangerous drug.”
The products found in both stores were not being sold in the open on shelves with other products, Costantino said.
“It was behind the counter, and some of this was even up in the rafters,” he said.
Lorain and Elyria Police departments collaborated with the Lorain County Drug Task Force on the raids.