Store owner charged with selling synthetic drugs

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

A 56-year-old Alabaster convenience store owner is in the Shelby County Jail for the second time in one year on charges of distributing synthetic drugs at his store.

Samanifar

Samanifar

The Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force, along with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Alcohol Beverage Control Board arrested Hoover resident Ali Reza Samanifar on May 7.

The arrest came during the agencies’ Project Synergy Phase II, which was a national law enforcement effort targeting manufacturers and distributors of synthetic drugs.

According to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, undercover investigators allegedly made “multiple undercover purchases of illegal cannabionids” at Samanifar’s store, A&S Food Mart at 630 First Street S. in Alabaster.

Officers arrested Samanifar at his Hoover residence and charged him with three counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, and investigators executed a search warrant at his store after he was arrested.

According to court records, Samanifar previously was arrested on three counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance for allegedly selling synthetic drugs at his store in May 2013. He was out on bond on the 2013 charges when he was arrested on May 7.

Samanifar was indicted on the 2013 charges in January, and currently is awaiting trial on those charges.

“Synthetic cannabinoids continue to be a growing concern for law enforcement because the manufacturers target teenagers and young adults,” SCDETF Lt. Kevin Turner wrote in a press release. “Synthetic cannabinoids are not a legal form of marijuana; they are a controlled substance that can cause side effects that range from hallucinations to loss of consciousness, and there have been instances in which overdose deaths have been reported.

“Although Project Synergy Phase II is complete, the Drug Task Force will continue to pursue manufacturers and distributors,” Turner wrote.

As of May 8, Samanifar was being held in the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling $45,000.