On Thursday, July 21, 2016, a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against Yousef Aezah, 27, Adhim Aezah, 22, and Dirar Aezah, 18, all of Bakersfield. All three were arraigned after their arrest before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston in Bakersfield and entered pleas of not guilty.
According to court documents, the Aezahs operated a website, through which they distributed large quantities of synthetic cannabinoids, including AB-CHMINACA, a Schedule I controlled substance. The Aezahs manufactured the synthetic cannabinoids at a warehouse in Bakersfield and shipped the synthetic cannabinoids using U.S. Mail to customers across the country.
Law enforcement executed search warrants at the manufacturing laboratory and residences of the defendants. They seized more than $300,000 in cash from the residences and seized approximately $949,000 from a bank account controlled by Yousef Aezah.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the California Highway Patrol, the Bakersfield Police Department, and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Grant B. Rabenn and Jeffrey A. Spivak are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, the defendants face maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for manufacturing and distributing a controlled substance, and conspiracy; and 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for maintaining a drug-involved premise. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.