Professor Faces 20 Years For Role In Synthetic Marijuana Trafficking Ring

By McCarton Ackerman 05/20/16

Authorities reportedly recovered 9.5 tons of synthetic marijuana and chemicals from the international drug-trafficking ring. 

Professor Faces 20 Years For Role In Synthetic Marijuana Trafficking Ring
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A University of Houston professor won’t be around for final exams after being arrested for his role in an international synthetic marijuana ring.

According to the Washington Times, Omar Maher Al Nasser, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Houston-Victoria’s School of Business Administration, was one of 12 people arrested in Houston on Tuesday. Sixteen people in total were named in an extensive indictment, with two arrests taking place in California and Virginia, and two other men still on the run.

Authorities reported recovering 9.5 tons of synthetic marijuana and chemicals. The Department of Justice said in a statement that the drug ring marketed their synthetic marijuana products as safe and had them "allegedly labeled as 'potpourri' or 'incense,'" with some including false information such as "100% legal," and "lab certified."

The 36-year-old Al Nasser faces two charges: conspiracy to commit money laundering, and aiding and abetting an unlicensed money-transmitting business. If convicted, he faces a six-figure fine and 20-year jail sentence.

University of Houston-Victoria officials said in a statement to Eyewitness News that the school “takes this matter very seriously and will fully cooperate with law enforcement on all aspects of their investigation.” UHV President Vic Morgan also told the Victoria Advocate that the school is looking for a replacement professor while Al Nasser is under indictment so that students can finish their classes this semester.

In February, an adjunct sociology professor at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania was also arrested for drug trafficking. An investigation was launched against Tara Bealer, 41, after an informant told police that she was selling 50 bags of heroin a day from her home. Police had previously found heroin packaging in her home in November 2015, while responding to a call about a drug overdose that had occurred there. Bealer faces a staggering 84 drug charges, including 71 for use and possession of drug paraphernalia, four for intent to manufacture or deliver, and one for endangering the welfare of children.

In November 2012, a University of North Carolina physics professor was convicted in Buenos Aires on drug-trafficking charges and sentenced to four years and eight months in prison. Paul Frampton, 72, was initially arrested by authorities that January after authorities found two kilograms of cocaine in his checked luggage. He claimed to have been duped by drug traffickers into carrying the baggage for a swimsuit model he thought he met on the Internet, but text messages were uncovered that he sent to the model which discussed “looking after your special little suitcase” and being “worried about the sniffer dogs.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.