Three SETX men among those arrested in New York-SETX drug operation

Three Southeast Texas men are among eight arrested as part of what federal officials are calling a synthetic marijuana conspiracy.

According to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration in Houston, Joe Aref, 28, of Nederland, Arafat Khoudour, 29, of Beaumont, and Ali Bedwan, 25, of Port Arthur, were arrested along with five New York residents who were involved in a large synthetic marijuana distribution operation in New York and Southeast Texas.

All of the people arrested have been indicted by a federal grand jury with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute synthetic marijuana. If convicted, each faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

A federal official did not release many details of individual search warrants, but did say addresses searched include homes located in the 3600 block of Terrace Drive in Nederland, 4600 block of Springdale in Port Arthur, 4000 block of Crow Road in Beaumont, 3200 block of 7th Street in Port Arthur and 15 homes and locations in New York.

Investigators say the chemicals used in the operation were imported from China and elsewhere by spraying them on leafy plant materials, added flavoring, and placed in packages with various labels. The packages were then distributed to convenience stores as well as shipped to co-conspirators in Texas, Ohio and South Carolina for distribution to customers.


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