Synthetic marijuana bust in Carrick store
A tearful mother said her son’s life was ruined by drugs he bought from a market police say sold synthetic marijuana.
“My son’s demeanor--he was mean, he was nasty,” the woman said at the June Carrick Block Watch meeting. “It affected my whole family. My son lost his kid....My son was (buying the drug with) food stamp cards.”
Synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice and K2 is popular among teens because it›s easily found in head shops, gas stations, and via the Internet, and young buyers have a misperception that the products are «natural» and therefore harmless, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
In Carrick, police say the alleged seller--Zach›s Market owner Ali Zoror--had about 100 buyers listed in a Rolodex found at his home.
“He ruined my kid,” the mother said about Mr. Zoror. “Ali would refer to himself as ‘the doctor.’”
Zone 3 Crime Prevention Officer Christine Luffey explained how the bust took place on May 29.
“This was huge, huge,” said Officer Luffey. “We knew about this for three years and it finally came to a head. (Mr. Zoror) said he knew his goose might›ve been cooked because he learned his most recent shipment of chemicals to manufacture K2 was intercepted by customs.”
Officer Luffey said, upon arrest, Mr. Zoror admitted to narcotics officers “he’s been doing this for years to support his gambling habit and he knew he should stop...but it was too profitable.”
Counter workers at the market sold the drug to customers who showed either a special ID card Mr. Zoror created or drivers licenses or other identification.
On the day of the arrest, Officer Luffey said it took officers three hours to clear all the evidence out of the store at 2625 Brownsvile Road. Back at Mr. Zoror›s home on Saranac Avenue in Beechview, they seized 30 pounds of synthetic marijuana, 50,000 pieces of drug packaging, and chemicals used to manufacture the drug.
Mr. Zoror, who is 51, lived with a 19-year-old son was also arrested. Mr. Zoror is free while waiting trial.
The audience at the meeting asked Officer Luffey how Zach’s was able to remain open after the Mr. Zoror arrest. She said business regulations allowed it.
Also at the Block Watch meeting, one woman thanked Officer Luffey for her work in forcing a disruptive neighbor who was living on Overbrook Boulevard. Luffey said that when people have complaints, such as this resident, they should write a list with dates and as much detail as possible to provide to officers to investigate.
Phone scams--through which at least one Bhutanese refugee already lost $1,000--was another topic at the meeting. Rup Pokharel, who frequently represents fellow refugees at the meeting, said he›s warned them to avoid a repeat of this crime by conducting an internet search for the phone number originating the call, and reporting it to police.
The July and August meetings of the Carrick Block Watch will be held at the Zion Christian Church at 2019 Brownsville Road. Mayor Bill Peduto has announced he will attend the 7 p.m. July 7 meeting, according to Dan Barrett, who works for Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. Mr. Peduto plans to speak and take questions regarding neighborhood needs and concerns for the first 30 minutes of the meeting.
Meanwhile, plans are underway for various community events on August 5, National Night Out. “Any assistance you need in planning, we’re more than happy to help you,” said Pittsburgh Weed & Seed Coordinator John Tokarski. He said Mayor Peduto has a real concern about safety as a whole, and will be rolling out a campaign called Safer Together Pittsburgh.
“The mayor has high expectations of his staff and himself in terms of serving Pittsburgh,” he said.
Volunteers are needed on Saturday, June 14 for Leolyn Parklet Day, for painting fences, planting flowers and shrubs and cleanup. Work takes place 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For information, contact Carrick Community Council at 412-339-0808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carrick Community Council is looking for members. Membership is $5 and includes access to several museums, and pays for the cost of materials and insurance for cleanup and beautification events. It permits members to vote it the council’s elections.