From staff reports
HARRISBURG - A federal grand jury in Harrisburg has returned a multi-count indictment charging eight men, including one from Richfield, with distribution of "bath salts" as well as synthetic marijuana from May 2011 through March of this year, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Inderjit Jassal, 31, of Richfield; Kulwinder Singh Grewal, 38, of Myerstown; Amarjit Singh Grewal, 32, of Ephrata; Jesse Roldan, 40, of Jim Thorpe; Steven Accardi, 30, of Willow Street; Fatra Jaswinder, 41, of Ranshaw; Baljeet Singh, 42, of Lancaster, and Slimane Belabbas, 34, of Ranshaw, were each charged with unlawful distribution of controlled substances, use of a communication facility to carry out the distribution, criminal conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and distributing and conspiring to distribute misbranded drugs. If convicted, each suspect faces a combined maximum term of 52 years in prison and fines totaling $2.75 million. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $1 million.
The alleged activities of the eight men took place in Mifflin, Dauphin, Cumberland, Lebanon and Lancaster counties, the release states.
The indictment says the suspects participated in the distribution of a chemical relative of Methcathinone and MDPV - controlled substances often referred to as "bath salts" and "jewelry cleaner" when sold at mini-markets and convenience stores. It also says the suspects were involved in the distribution of synthetic marijuana, and sold commercially under names such as "Purple Haze Kryptonite," "Bangkok Chill" and "Tiger's Blood Kryptonite."
The charges were the result of "Operation Rubber Ducky" which was conducted by the Department of Justice's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. In the release, U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith states the substances are very dangerous to users, law enforcement and the general public, and their alleged illegal distribution will be prosecuted as forcefully as possible by his office.
Smith said the indictment was returned by a grand jury on April 4, but was kept under seal to allow law enforcement agencies to make arrests, to execute search warrants simultaneously in multiple locations and to organize the seizure of more than $6 million in suspected drug-related funds from banks in Maryland and Texas.
All but Jassal and Belabbas were arrested last week and appeared before Magisterial District Judge Martin C. Carlson in Harrisburg. Kulwinder Singh Grewal and Amarjit Singh Grewal were ordered held without bail pending trial. The other defendants were released on bail. Jassal appeared before Magisterial District Judge Martin C. Carlson on April 24. Belabbas' whereabouts are unknown.
The trial is scheduled before Chief Judge Yvette Kane on June 4. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William A. Behe with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office's Victim Rights and Asset Recovery Unit.