For Immediate Release
McFarland Man Sentenced for Money Laundering Conspiracy Related to Sale of Synthetic Cannabinoids
MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Zahid Shakeel, 58, McFarland, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 18 months in federal prison for conspiring to commit money laundering related to the sale of synthetic cannabinoids at gas stations owned by Capitol Petroleum, LLC (Capitol Petroleum). Shakeel pleaded guilty to this charge on April 24, 2019.
Farooq Shahzad owns and operates Capitol Petroleum, and Zahid Shakeel was formerly the general manager for the company. From July 2015 through April 2016, Shahzad conspired with Shakeel and others to distribute synthetic cannabinoids, dangerous drugs capable of hallucinogenic effects. Law enforcement officials repeatedly asked Shahzad, Shakeel, and other Capitol Petroleum employees to stop the sale of these dangerous drugs, and executed search warrants in June 2015 seizing the inventories of two gas stations. Despite these warnings, the conspirators continued to distribute synthetic cannabinoids from a Mobil gas station located at 3505 East Washington Avenue in Madison. During this period, Shakeel systematically made cash deposits from the sale of synthetic cannabinoids into bank accounts controlled by Shahzad.
In sentencing Shakeel, Judge Peterson stated that Shakeel was deeply involved in the conspiracy and persisted in distributing synthetic cannabinoids even after he knew it was illegal and damaging to the community. Judge Peterson noted that Shakeel also filed a false affidavit in court in connection with the government’s early investigation into the conspiracy. However, Judge Peterson also noted that unlike Shahzad, there was no evidence that Shakeel significantly profited from the sale of synthetic cannabinoids.
On March 20, 2019, Judge Peterson sentenced Shahzad to 30 months in federal prison for conspiring to distribute synthetic cannabinoids and possessing untaxed smokeless tobacco.
The charge against Zahid Shakeel was the result of an investigation conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and Dane County Narcotics Task Force. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner.