New York - A New York man was arrested Thursday for the fraudulent use of a federal food assistance program in connection with the sale of synthetic drugs.  The arrest came following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) in New York, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and local law enforcement.

Yousif Mosleh, 26, of Manhattan, has been associated with two retail food stores in the area that engaged in sales of synthetic cannabinoids in exchange for benefits issued by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  He is also linked to conspiring with others to sell other items not eligible for sale under SNAP in exchange for SNAP benefits. SNAP uses tax dollars to subsidize low-income households, helping low-income individuals and families to maintain more nutritious diets by increasing the food purchasing power of eligible households.  According to USDA regulations, items such as cigarettes, hot foods for immediate consumption, and controlled substances, among other items, are ineligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

“SNAP was created to help low income families put food on their tables. Instead, Mosleh allegedly used SNAP to feed drug addicts a hazardous synthetic narcotic,” said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez. “K2 poses a public safety risk, especially for our teens and young adults.  Mosleh’s arrest is a testament to HSI’s commitment to keep illegal drugs off our streets.”

“Yousif Mosleh is charged with peddling dangerous synthetic drugs in New York City neighborhoods and funding his drug sales by abusing a system created to assist the most vulnerable in our society,” said Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of  New York.  “Thanks to the dedicated agents of the USDA and HSI, Mosleh can no longer profit from this illegal scheme.”  

Mosleh is charged with two counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to violate the statutes and regulations governing SNAP, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. 

This case is being prosecuted by the SDNY’s Narcotics Unit.  The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.