Thousands of dollars in synthetic marijuana seized from Elizabeth store, apartment

UNION COUNTY — An Elizabeth man is facing multiple drug charges after thousands of dollars’ worth of synthetic marijuana was seized from his home and the convenience store where he worked, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park announced yesterday.

Shabib Al Ramadina, a 39-year-old Jordanian national, is charged with two second-degree drug offenses, two third-degree drug offenses, and a single count of fourth-degree possession of drug paraphernalia.

A two-month joint investigation involving the Elizabeth Police Department and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that Al Ramadina was allegedly selling synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia out of Brothers Food Market, a convenience store on the 100 block of Spring Street in Elizabeth.

Earlier this week detectives entered the store, arrested Al Ramadina and were given permission to search the premises, after which more than 160 assorted 5-gram packages of synthetic drugs, drug paraphernalia, and more than $1,100 in cash were seized.

Al Ramadina subsequently gave detectives consent to search his apartment on the 1400 block of Lexington Place in Elizabeth, where investigators additionally recovered 150 additional 5-gram packages of synthetic drugs.

The total weight of the seized drugs was approximately three pounds, and the cumulative estimated street value of the drugs was more than $6,200.

Designer synthetic drugs, including some forms of synthetic marijuana, often are marketed as herbal incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner, or plant food, and they have caused significant abuse, addiction, overdoses, and emergency room visits, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Smokeable herbal blends marketed as being “legal” and providing a marijuana-like high have become increasingly popular during recent years, particularly among teenagers and young adults, because they are easily available and in many cases more potent and dangerous than marijuana, the agency reported earlier this year.

These products typically consist of plant material that has been infused with dangerous psychoactive chemical compounds that mimic tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.