Cuyahoga County

County judge orders $432,706 forfeited in synthetic drug convictions

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A judge Tuesday ordered $432,706 to be forfeited in one of Cuyahoga County’s first convictions for the synthetic drug known as spice.

Common Pleas Court Judge John Russo ordered the money to be turned over in the case of three brothers – Johnny, Donny and Elias Ghazoul – who pleaded guilty in February to related charges. The drug has gained wide-scale popularity because of the Internet, and, for years, had been sold at convenience stores, when it was legal. The case followed an investigation by Parma police.

“These defendants were major dealers of very dangerous synthetic drugs – substances that in potency are far more similar to PCP than marijuana,’’ said Erica Barnhill, the assistant county prosecutor who handled the case.

“We hope the sting of losing more than $400,000 will teach these defendants never again to engage in such dangerous and unlawful behavior.’’

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