An Arizona man has been accused of committing a food stamp fraud scheme at his convenience store, where he traded illegal drugs for food stamps.
Phoenix police announced Thursday that officers arrested Bejar Sadiq Abdulaziz, 43, and charged him with multiple felonies, including selling narcotics, possessing dangerous drugs, money laundering, and conducting an illegal enterprise, the Associated Press reported.
Phoenix police spokesperson Sergeant Vince Lewis said the department began investigating Abdulaziz in 2017 upon receiving a tip that Abdulaziz’s convenience store, Azad Market in Glendale, was illegally purchasing food stamp benefits.
The tip sparked “a joint investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Bureau of the Phoenix Police Department, USDA Office of Inspector General, and the Arizona Department of Economic Security,” the Phoenix New Times reported.
Investigators served a warrant at Azad Market and searched his home, finding several cartridges of cannabis and synthetic marijuana. Police had been investigating his market for a while, sending undercover officers to buy THC cartridges on different occasions between March and June.
During the investigation, officials say food stamp (EBT) cards were traded for drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and THC cartridges to use in electronic cigarettes, KPNX reported.
“EBT cards were traded for Spice and methamphetamine (both dangerous drugs), cocaine (a narcotic drug), and THC cartridges,” Lewis said.
Lewis also said Abdulaziz traded food stamp benefits for cocaine and meth but did not include food stamp trafficking in the charges against him because it is “part of the larger investigation that will be submitted to the AG.”
The family, however, has plans to file a lawsuit against the city, maintains Abdulaziz’s innocence, and claimed in a press conference on Thursday that police raided their home without cause and took $40,000 from them.
“They did too much to us. They destroy our life, of me and my kids. And they don’t find nothing in me. And they take all our property,” Abdulaziz said during the press conference.