U. S. Attorney says defendants used building for "manufacturing and distributing synthetic cannabinoids"



Brothers Yousef Aezah, 28; Adhim Aezah, 23; and Dirar Aezah, 19, all of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty this week to maintaining a drug-involved premise for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing synthetic cannabinoids or “spice,” U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. As part of the guilty pleas, the defendants agreed to forfeit more than $1 million in U.S. currency that was seized from them during their arrests.

According to the plea agreements, the defendants maintained a warehouse in Bakersfield that they used to manufacture and distribute synthetic cannabinoids, including AB-CHMINACA, a Schedule I controlled substance.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the California Highway Patrol, the Bakersfield Police Department, and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Grant B. Rabenn and Jeffrey A. Spivak are prosecuting the case.

This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

The defendants remain out of custody and are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on July 16, 2018. The defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 criminal fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.