The Fresno County Sheriff's Office was given a $1.8 million check Friday from the federal government as part of an assets seizure from the breakup of a synthetic marijuana-smuggling ring.
U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert handed the check to Sheriff Margaret Mims at a press conference at the sheriff's headquarters.
Prosecutor Karen Escobar said the drug ring was originally based in Florida before expanding to California. The synthetic weed, also called Spice, is often sold in psychedelic shops and is reportedly much stronger than marijuana. Victor Anthony Nottoli, 51, of Hillsborough, pleaded guilty in the case in 2014 to introducing at least 24 tons of misbranded smokable synthetic cannabinoids into interstate commerce. Nottoli forfeited at total of $6.5 million in drug proceeds, $6,488,000 in cash and $191,000 in other assets.
Mims said the drug was intended for the Stuffed Pipe stores in the Fresno area. She said Spice can cause medical problems such as kidney failure.
The sheriff intends to use the seized money to replace one of the decades-old Eagle One helicopters.