Suspects arrested in ‘spice’ sales

Published 10:02 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Three suspects have been arrested and a fourth is sought in connection with the alleged sale of “spice” at the Carrollton Tobacco Shop.

Spice, or synthetic marijuana, is marketed as a “safe” alternative to marijuana and is second only to marijuana in the number of young people who use it, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The products contain shredded plant material and chemical additives that can cause mind-altering effects.


Sheriff’s deputies in Isle of Wight County are searching for Magdy Mohamed Ashour, 56, of Regency Square in Newport News. Those arrested so far include Walid Mohamed Soliman, 19; Lisa Lovelle Ruppert, 54; and Dania Soliman, 21.

Email newsletter signup

According to a news release, Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office investigators and Virginia State Police agents served a search warrant at the shop Wednesday afternoon.

Authorities have received a number of complaints from citizens regarding the sale of “spice” at local specialty shops, according to the release. Officials made undercover purchases of the products.

In addition, the sheriff’s office has investigated at least four cases of young people having medical emergencies attributed to the use of spice. Physical symptoms experienced during the emergencies ranged from anxiety and confusion to unconsciousness and symptoms that required treatment in an intensive care unit.

In one such instance, deputies and emergency medical services were called to the parking lot of Carrollton Tobacco Shop on Aug. 27 for a drug overdose. A witness told deputies his friend had purchased spice from the store and began smoking it in the parking lot. The witness said his friend’s head locked back, he couldn’t move, and he began screaming for help.

W. Soliman

On Sept. 4, first responders were again called to the Carrollton Tobacco Shop, according to the release. An employee was hallucinating and “screaming hysterically,” and told deputies she had just smoked spice, but refused medical treatment, according to the release.

All four suspects are charged or are expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and distribution of synthetic cannabinoids. Walid Soliman faces an additional charge of maintaining a common nuisance.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration has designated five chemicals commonly used in spice as a Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy or possess them.

Some manufacturers try to evade the restrictions by substituting different chemicals in their mixtures, according to the institute.

Symptoms reported to the National Institute on Drug Abuse have included those similar to those produced by marijuana, including elevated mood, relaxation and altered perception, as well as psychotic effects like extreme anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations and physical symptoms like rapid heart rate, vomiting, high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Regular users can experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms, according to the institute.