The Texas Attorney General’s Office today announced a lawsuit, filed jointly with the Harris County Attorney’s Office and City of Houston, against 2709 Broadway, Inc. and its owner, Layth Omran, for distributing products containing synthetic marijuana, a dangerous substance that has been linked to overdoses, serious injuries and even deaths.
The lawsuit follows a joint investigation by the Harris County Attorney's Office, the City of Houston Attorney's Office, Houston Police Department, and Houston Forensic Science Center. The Houston Police Department (HPD) conducted undercover operations that resulted in more than 150 packages of the substance being uncovered and seized at the store.
“My office will continue to work with local law enforcement officials to crack down on those who sell synthetic marijuana,” said Attorney General Paxton. “I am committed to combatting this growing threat in Texas by taking action against these businesses and their owners.”
In the lawsuit, the Texas Attorney General’s Office alleges that 2709 Broadway, and its owner, Layth Omran, have violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as common nuisance statutes under Texas law. Businesses selling these products are engaging in deceptive trade practices, as they are clearly misleading consumers with claims that the products are legal and safe, despite the dangers they pose.
The court granted a temporary restraining order, and the State and City are seeking a temporary injunction and permanent injunction on all businesses associated with the store to prevent the sale of these products.
According to investigators, employees at 2709 Broadway were selling the dangerous synthetic drugs in packages deceivingly labeled as incense or “potpourri.” Furthermore, the packages had a list of misleading ingredients labeled as vegetable-based, such as “baby bean,” “blue lotus” and aroma essences. When the packages seized by HPD were sent to the lab, the results confirmed that the products contain AB-CHMINACA and XLR11, both highly addictive and dangerous chemicals listed by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule 1 controlled substances – the most dangerous kind.
While synthetic marijuana is marketed as “safe,” the dangers of the substance are widely reported – including severe paranoia, psychotic episodes, violent delusions, kidney damage, suicidal thoughts and self-mutilation. There has been an alarming uptick in these reports in 2014-15.
This is the third time this agency has joined forces with local authorities and law enforcement to take action against Texas businesses that are endangering the lives of young Texans with the production, sale, and distribution of synthetic drugs.
In July, The Texas Attorney General’s Office, the Harris County Attorney’s Office and City of Houston sued Houston-area convenience store Almeda Food Mart for distributing products containing synthetic marijuana. More than 300 packages of the substance were uncovered and seized by local law enforcement.
In June, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Harris County Sheriff’s Department investigated and sued four Houston-area stores, Katz Boutique, for distributing the substance and marketing it to children in the form of “Kush,” which is sold in various fruit flavors. A temporary injunction is in place.