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Deli owner arrested, allegedly traded K2 for food stamps

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: In this photo illustration, packets of K2 or "spice", a synthetic marijuana drug, are seen in East Harlem on August 5, 2015 in New York City. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage including varieties known as K2 or "Spice" which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. While the state banned the ingredients used to make K2 in 2012, distributors have switched to other ingredients and names in an attempt to circumvent the law. (Photo Illustration by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A Manhattan deli owner was arrested Sept. 1 for allegedly selling K2 in exchange for food stamps, prosecutors said. (Photo Illustration by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

EAST HARLEM, Manhattan — A Manhattan deli owner accused of giving people synthetic marijuana in exchange for food stamps was arrested Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

Yousif Mosleh, 26, faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

“Yousif Mosleh is charged with peddling dangerous synthetic drugs in New York City neighborhoods and funding his drug sales by abusing a system created to assist the most vulnerable in our society,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Mosleh operates one deli at 125th Street and Lexington Avenue and owns another one nearby, prosecutors said.

Two confidential informants used food stamps to buy K2 from Mosleh at the East Harlem delis starting in June 2015. Police recovered more than 2,000 packages of what appeared to be synthetic marijuana from one of the delis in July 2015.

Police charged Mosleh with two counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to violate the statutes and regulations governing the food stamp program.