DECATUR — A former Decatur business owner was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday for possession with intent to distribute synthetic cannabis, known as K2 or Spice.
Noman Hizam, 37, of Harristown, pleaded guilty to the charges March 2. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney John E. Childress previously said Hizam owned multiple stores in the Decatur area, including Handy Pantry, 3715 N. Woodford St., and the Cigar Outlet, 1247 E. Mound Road.
The news was announced Monday evening in a statement from the office of U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois John E. Childress. He said K2 and Spice are among trade names for synthetic cannabinoids, "mind-altering chemicals developed to mimic the effects of THC, the main active ingredient of marijuana."
Hizam has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest in July 2016, Childress said.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents executed a search warrant at Hizam's businesses and a storage locker unit connected to him in May 2016. They found stacks of U.S. currency and about 300 packets of synthetic cannabis, with names such as "Smacked Blueberry," "Scooby Snax Hypnotic," "Mr. Big Shot" and others.
The case against Hizam is related to a continuing task force investigation of the distribution of synthetic cannabinoids in Central Illinois. Cases are pending for three other Decatur men caught up in a crackdown on sales of the drug.
A grand jury returned an indictment Jan. 3 that accused Abdu Saleh Mohamed of agreeing to distribute and regularly distributing synthetic cannabinoids from his retail store, BJ's Mini-Mart, 1802 N. Main St. The indictment claims he possessed with intent to distribute more than nine kilograms of the drug.
Two other Decatur defendants, Walid Alanasawi and Jamal Nasir, were indicted in February with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoids to stores in Decatur and Central Illinois. Trials are pending for all three defendants.