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Crime & Courts

Sandwich Main Stop owner arrested in federal drug sweep

SANDWICH – A Sandwich business owner was one of more than 150 people across the country arrested Wednesday as part of a federal Drug Enforcement Administration crackdown on synthetic drug makers, wholesalers and retailers.

Federal agents working in concert with DeKalb County Sheriff's officers arrested Altaf H. Dandia, 57, of Naperville, the owner of Main Stop Inc., 710 E. Railroad St. Unit C, in Sandwich. Dandia faces federal charges of defrauding the United States and violation of the Controlled Substance Act after police said he sold synthetic marijuana to undercover officers.

He was in federal custody Thursday at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, an official there confirmed.

DEA agents fanned out across the country Wednesday and made more 150 arrests and served about 200 warrants, DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said. Authorities seized more than $20 million in cash and assets, the DEA said.

DeKalb County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie said a small amount of cash and several packets of synthetic marijuana were seized from the Sandwich store.

“I think this sends a clear message,” Dumdie said. “We don't think he was a distributor. We think he was probably a low-level dealer.”

Dumdie said the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office was starting what was a nearly three-month investigation into Dandia when they were contacted by the DEA to help in the nationwide sweep.

The DEA has been cracking down on synthetic drugs, including Spice, Molly and so-called bath salts, since the drugs first gained widespread popularity years ago. In late 2010, the agency responsible for enforcing federal drug laws moved to ban five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana blends, including those known as K2, Spice and Blaze.

Since then, drug manufacturers have continued to modify their formulas and develop new chemical mixtures.

Besides Illinois, Wednesday's raids took place in Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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