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Suspects in synthetic drug case indicted again

By Jessica Priest
Feb. 25, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 25, 2014 at 8:26 p.m.


DRUGS FOUND

Some of the drugs alleged to have been found at the shops:

Head Trip

Suby Snax

Spike Max

Mr. Nice Guy LMAO Herbal Burnables

HI 5 Aromatic Potpourri

Supreme Armageddon 2.0

Herbal Incense

Chronic

Afterlife Hypnotic

KUSH MANIA, strawberry and blueberry flavors

18 Pump-It

Amsterdam Attic Select Potpourri Blend

Bayou Blaster Redoux

Hammaer Head

Alien Technology Intergalactic Bunny Organics

New Dimension Green Organic Revolution

Bliss Silber Glass Cleaner

The indicted

Here is a list of those indicted and the names of businesses where they worked:

Ramzan Ali Lakhani, 35; Khairunissa Wazirali Lakhani, 34; and Cheryl Dykes McGrath, 52, all of Victoria and employees of Cracker Barrel, are charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and two counts of delivery of a substance in penalty group 2A, according to court documents.

Matthew Aguirre, 28; Juan Carlos Reyes, 21; David Lee Shook, 28, all of Victoria and employees of D&D Novelties South or doing business as the National Video Supply of Santa Clarita, Calif., are charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and delivery of a substance in penalty group 2A, according to court documents.

Dennis Earl Shook, 54; Donna Bryant Shook, 49; Ronni Deneen Garrett, 21, all of Victoria and employees of D&D Novelties North are charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and delivery of a substance in penalty group 2 or 2A.

Owen Shea Townsend, 23; Christopher Thomas Salinas, 26; both of Victoria, and Samshudin Jalaludd Dawoodani, 33, of Sugar Land, were doing business as Smoke-N-Rock, 6412 N. Navarro Street, Suite D. They are charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, delivery of a substance in penalty group 2A and delivery of a substance in penalty group 2 or 2A, according to court documents.

Sheri Patton, 44; and Maria Garza, 23, both of Victoria, face engaging in organized criminal activity and two delivery of a substance in penalty group 2 or 2A charges. They worked at Needful Things, 3608 N. Laurent Street, according to court documents.

Fourteen people were re-indicted by a grand jury Thursday - some a third time - for allegedly selling synthetic drugs at several shops throughout Victoria.

The charges stem from a joint raid on the businesses April 9, 2012, by the Victoria Police Department and the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, according to an earlier report.

"They (law enforcement) had tips from citizens, made the purchases and did a lab test," Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler said Tuesday.

Defense Attorney Keith Weiser filed a motion to quash one of the defendant's indictments previously after he said the language on it was unclear.

On Tuesday, he was not aware his client had been re-indicted, so he could not say whether the language in the document eased his original concerns.

Tyler said he revised it to make it more clear which individuals were working together.

He said it took more than a year to do so because law enforcement was still investigating and the Department of Public Safety, where he sent the drugs to be tested, had a backlog.

Jamie Balagia, a San Antonio-based attorney, represents eight of the defendants who did business as D&D Novelties, which had two locations at the time of the raid - 1706 Houston Highway and 9501 N. Navarro St. - Cracker Barrel and Smoke-N-Rock. He described this development in the cases as a "grand stand" by law enforcement.

"Funny how the issue comes up again right before another election," he said via email.

Tyler is uncontested for criminal district attorney in both the Republican primary on March 4 and the Nov. 4 general election.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor is not up for election because his term has not expired.

Balagia also wondered how the raids affected the safety of citizens.

"Regardless, it seems to be a great waste of taxpayer money to continue to hound these individuals with the threat of prison. The stores no longer sell these items and are now in compliance with the ever-changing laws," he said. "The individuals indicted had paperwork from the distributing companies that assured them that the items were not in violation of the drug statutes."

He said the accused want to put the matter behind them should Tyler be willing to negotiate.

Other defense attorneys Lee Lewis, who represents Patton, Tali Villafranca, who represents the Lakhanis, Chris Iles, who represents McGrath, and Timothy McCoy, who represents Garza, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

All the charges the defendants face are first-degree felonies, punishable with between five to 99 years in prison with a possible $10,000 fine.

Penalty group 2 substances include various cocktails of hallucinogenic substances made illegal by the 82nd Texas Legislature. Penalty group 2A substances, meanwhile, are those that mimic the pharmacological effect of naturally-occurring cannabinoids, according to acts last amended Sept. 1, 2011.

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