The owner of two west-end Independence stores pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to distributing designer drugs, synthetic cannaboids known as “K2” and accepting food stamps as payment for K2.

Haq Nawaz Choudhry, 53, of Kansas City pleaded guilty in federal court in Kansas City to participating in a conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and controlled substance analogue, and to participating in a money laundering conspiracy. Choudhry is president of Habib Enterprises, which owned the Short Stop convenience store and Kerns Liquor next door in the 9000 block of U.S. 40, just inside the Kansas City border.

According to court documents, Jackson County Drug Task Force undercover officers made a series of transactions at the two stores on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from February to October 2013. On some occasions they used federal EBT cards (used to redeem food stamps) to purchase synthetic cannaboids.

During the investigation Choudhry concealed the sale of synthetic cannaboids by using the EBT cards through the point-of-sale terminal. As a result, the purchases would be processed as “food purchases.”

Officers searched the two stores on Oct. 22, 2013, and recovered synthetic cannaboids and drug paraphernalia at both establishments. They also seized cash. Choudhry was not present during those searches.

According to court documents, officers returned to the stores Feb. 11, 2014, based on a complaint they were selling K2 again. Choudhry denied any such sales and allowed a search, which yielded synthetic cannaboids and drug paraphernalia from Kerns. Officers also seized $6,000 from the store.

The court will determine the final money judgment against Choudhry for his illegal activities, though the $27,443 seized by officers will be credited toward that amount, under terms of Tuesday's plea agreement. Choudhry faces up to 40 years in federal prison without parole and will be sentenced at a later date.