Police: Old Goucher Corner Store Sold Illicit Viagra and Cialis

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The store raided for suspected heroin and morphine in Old Goucher on Dec. 5. Photo via Lowell Larsson/Google Maps.

Days after city prosecutors dropped narcotics charges against two Old Goucher corner store employees found with 29 pounds of powders and other paraphernalia, police say they now suspect another kind of illegal drug operation was afoot.

Police chief spokesman T.J. Smith told Baltimore Fishbowl in an email that some of the items seized on Dec. 5, 2017, have tested positive for the popular erectile dysfunction drugs Cialis and Viagra.

“This store is NOT a pharmacy,” Smith wrote in an email. “The business is believed to have sold these prescription drugs illegally.”

Also taken by police in the Dec. 5 raid, according to Smith: “numerous cutting agents, over 10,000 grams [of powders], over 60,000 glass top vials, 10,000 clear gel capsules, 20,000 small Ziplock bags, 10 scales, and numerous false bottom containers” used to conceal drugs.

Ahmed Alraohani, 49, and Sharif Shaibi, 22, were released from pre-trial detention last Wednesday after spending nearly a month behind bars, held without bail. The men were arrested in early December during a raid on their store at the corner of N. Charles and E. 22nd streets, which police publicly said was a “substantial” fentanyl bust.

But preliminary lab testing on some of the powders showed they weren’t those drugs. A city prosecutor last week informed defense attorneys Alex Leikus and John Hammann, representing Alraohani and Shaibi, respectively, that preliminary results came back negative for fentanyl and morphine. The men were released after a hearing on Jan. 3.

Leikus said Monday morning that he finds it “interesting” that officials haven’t yet determined the exact contents of the powders with final lab results.

“The way this case was brought to the media was that we had almost 30 pounds of illegal drugs,” he said. “That’s how it’s brought, that’s how these guys are charged, that’s how their bail is [set at] no bail…Five weeks later, we still don’t know what it is.”

The defense attorney said prosecutors made an “ethical decision” to drop the charges, and criticized city police for pursuing a “theory” that the powders were narcotics before proving it in a lab. “They could have tested it, and when the analysis came through, they could have charged them appropriately.”

Police are now working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Baltimore division on the case, Smith said. He described it as an “ongoing investigation” and said “there is still product being tested and fentanyl has not yet been ruled out.”

DEA spokesman Todd Edwards said the agency is looking into the case to see if the corner store had been operating like “an illegal pharmacy.”

Neither Smith nor Edwards said what the charges might be, if any, or when they would be filed.

Male enhancement pills at corner stores and gas stations have become a national phenomenon in recent years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidance in 2015 warning consumers to beware of such products due to “undisclosed drug ingredients,” such as the same active ones found in prescription drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Associate Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan is Baltimore Fishbowl's associate editor. He previously covered Baltimore-area news as a web producer for Fox45/WBFF-TV. Before arriving in Baltimore, he worked as an assistant editor for CQ Researcher in Washington D.C., and a reporter for Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. Look for his freelance bylines in Baltimore City Paper and DCist.
Ethan McLeod
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