LOUISVILLE — The FBI is searching for two men accused of illegally distributing prescription drugs and the stimulant khat while using a check cashing scheme to launder more than $6 million from a storefront in south Louisville.
Abdalla Hajisufi, a native of Somalia, and his son, Kenyan native Mohamed Hajisufi, missed their scheduled arraignments in June in federal court in Louisville. The pair hasn't been seen in Louisville since mid-May, and the FBI considers them fugitives. The U.S. Attorney's Office on Tuesday sought to seize cash from what it described as an illicit drug and money laundering operation and released the FBI affidavit detailing the case against the men.
A federal grand jury in Louisville indicted the father and son in May on charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Abdalla Hajisufi is also charged with money laundering and lying to obtain food stamps and federal housing aide.
The FBI started investigating the Hajisufis through their business, The Hana Store, in south Louisville in November 2011 as part of a drug sting.
FBI Special Agent Andrew Phillips said in an affidavit that a confidential informant bought the prescription painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone from the store run by the Hajisufis on several occasions between Nov. 11, 2011 and March 1.
Agents also noted that the Hajisufis cashed checks regularly from Labor Works Louisville, a temporary employment agency near The Hana Store, even though he had no license or authority to serve as a check-cashing outlet.
Phillips said the two would cash payroll checks from Labor Works Louisville while deducting a small fee from the employees. After the checks were cashed, Hajisufi would return the checks to the business and be repaid the full amount, Phillips wrote. From July 2006 through December 2010, Phillips estimated that Hajisufi cashed out $6.6 million from 106,872 payroll checks.
In the affidavit, Phillips describes going into The Hana Store on Nov. 8, finding one side of the business selling grocery and food items and the other side clothing items.
"I inquired as to whether the business would cash a check," Phillips wrote. "The unknown male said that the business only cashes checks from Labor Works."
Labor Works Louisville has not been charged. Messages left for executives of the Louisville-based company were not immediately returned Wednesday morning.
Agents also scoured Hajisufi's bank accounts, concluding that he used several banks and made multiple deposits below the $10,000 threshold that would require the financial institute to report the transaction to federal regulators.
Phillips believed the pattern of deposits was consistent with someone running a drug operation and obtained a search warrant.
A search by the FBI on March 13 turned up prescription pill bottles for hydrocodone and a supply of khat packaged in zip lock bags and loose in a large blue tub and two blue plastic grocery bags.
Khat is a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Somalia and Yemen are among the places where khat is commonplace. Users chew the leaf to release stimulants that produce a mild high.
Officer Carey Klain, a Louisville Metro Police spokeswoman, said the presence of khat in Louisville is rare, generally restricted to the Somali community. Klain said that the drug mostly arrives in packages at the airport and that the owner can be cited for misdemeanor possession if the drug is detected before the package is claimed.
"It's just not something they see a lot of," Klain said.
The two men were scheduled for arraignment in June, but neither showed up in court. Family members told Phillips the pair traveled to Canada in May. Abdalla Hajisufi's attorney, Paul Neel of Louisville, was out of the office Wednesday and unavailable for comment.