3 suspects held without bail in lethal synthetic marijuana case

CHICAGO — Three men charged with selling synthetic marijuana that has been linked to two deaths are being held without bail.

Federal prosecutors charged 48-year-old Fouad Masoud and 44-year-old Jad Allah, both of suburban Justice, and 44-year-old Adil Khan Mohammed of Chicago with conspiring to distribute and sell a controlled substance. Federal prosecutors said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents made undercover buys of synthetic cannabinoids at Masoud's West Side store.

Court documents say the suspects showed authorities where they kept a bucket full of 112 packages of fake weed.

Federal officials said synthetic cannabinoids were packaged in sealed containers and labeled with names like 'Matrix,' 'Blue Giant' and 'Crazy Monkey.' Testing of the products revealed brodifacoum, a toxic substance frequently used in rat poison.

In court Friday, at least five people told authorities they bought the fake weed that made them sick at King Mart.

The state health department reports that at least 95 people statewide have gotten sick since early March after ingesting synthetic weed. Symptoms include internal bleeding.

At least two people have died: a 22-year-old Chicago man and another in Peoria. A third death in Cook County could be linked to fake weed, authorities said; an autopsy is pending.

When police arrested Masoud at his home, they found him walking out with $344,000 in cash.  They also found another 2,900 grams of fake weed.

U.S. attorneys argued he has no family in the U.S. and has the financial means to run.

The three men face up to at least 20 years in federal prison.