PHOENIX - The owners of El Ranchero Meat Market in Phoenix have been arrested for selling 'spice', a synthetic drug.
The Arizona Attorney General has charged brothers Omar Mohammed Abuarar, age 34, and Nathmi Mohammed Abuarar, age 46, with conspiracy and other drug racketeering charges.
Officials have been investigating the brothers for months, and observed them selling drugs at their store locations in Phoenix. They later arranged several undercover drug buys. The drugs were tested by the Department of Public Safety lab and determined to be spice.
In September, they served search warrants at seven locations, including the stores, the brothers' homes, a storage unit, and other undisclosed locations. There, investigators say, they found nearly 1,400 packages of spice worth about $28,000, liquid spice, illegally acquired cigarettes, and gold jewelry worth over $100,000. Police believe they were also using the market to fence stolen property.
The brothers were not arrested at that time as investigators were led to believe that they would assist them in identifying their manufacturers and suppliers. After the brothers refused to cooperate, the investigation continued.
The brothers were arrested simultaneously on May 24. Omar was arrested near 23rd and Glendale avenues at a smoke shop they own. Nathmi was taken into custody at 32nd Street and Thomas Road at the El Ranchero Meat Market.
Police say Nathmi is already on federal probation for defrauding the U.S. Treasury, after taking a plea deal and promising to pay restitution of $3 million.
The brothers are each being held on a $250,000 bond.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Abuarers' business as El Rancho Market. It has since been updated.