More serious charges filed against man accused of selling synthetic pot

Charges that a North­east busi­ness­man sold syn­thet­ic marijuana in his Somer­ton store were with­drawn Dec. 4. However, Kamel Gerges, op­er­at­or of the 1 Stop Smoke Shop at Ver­ree and Red Li­on roads, faces sim­il­ar, but more ser­i­ous, charges in Mont­gomery County, said Pennsylvania As­sist­ant At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Kate Gib­son.

Gerges, 34, was ar­res­ted in late Ju­ly dur­ing a statewide law-en­force­ment sweep called “Op­er­a­tion Ar­ti­fi­cial High.” He was ar­res­ted by Mont­gomery County au­thor­it­ies on Nov. 6.

In late Ju­ly, au­thor­it­ies said drug paraphernalia worth more than $200,000 and a small amount of syn­thet­ic marijuana were seized from the Egyp­tian cit­izen’s store on the 10000 block of Ver­ree Road. Also raided in Ju­ly was Gerges’ Philmont Heights home, where in­vest­ig­at­ors found bank re­cords and a small amount of syn­thet­ic marijuana, au­thor­it­ies said.

It was the re­cords and pack­aging equip­ment found in Gerges’ home and busi­ness that led to the Mont­gomery County charges, Gib­son said in an in­ter­view Tues­day.

Gerges’ pa­per­work showed he sup­plied a Wil­low Grove busi­ness with his own brand of syn­thet­ic marijuana — Hak­una Mata­ta — for more than a year and billed the store for more than $44,000, she said. Gerges also sold syn­thet­ic marijuana to stores in Bucks County, Gib­son ad­ded.

Gerges has been free on 10 per­cent of $250,000 bail since Nov. 16, ac­cord­ing to court re­cords. He is not per­mit­ted to work at the Ver­ree Road store, Gib­son said.

Syn­thet­ic pot has been il­leg­al in Pennsylvania since Au­gust 2011. It of­ten is sold in con­veni­ence stores and gas sta­tions and re­tails un­der names such as Kush, K2, Spice, Cloud Nine, Dead Man and Herb­al Smoke. The cost gen­er­ally is low and syn­thet­ic pot doesn’t show up in most ur­ine tests. Fed­er­al au­thor­it­ies have said it is the second most ab­used drug by Amer­ic­an teen­agers. The first is marijuana.

Many of the chem­ic­als — syn­thet­ic can­nabanoids — used to make Kush and K2, are im­por­ted from China or In­dia in powder form. They’re mixed with li­quids and sprayed on a vari­ety of dried leaves, fed­er­al of­fi­cials say.  ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or

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