According to the most recent Press release Californians can sleep better thanks to the heroic work of federal and local police who dismantled a criminal organization in San Diego County, sources from the U.S. Department of Justice say. Ryan L. Korner, the special agent in charge of the Office of Criminal Investigations at the Los Angeles IRS, said the gangsters who pleaded guilty to multiple federal felonies last week didn’t care “how their actions hurt innocent people, the community or our society. Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said the offenders “pose a significant health and safety hazard to the public, especially our young people.”
But don’t worry. “As a result of this hard work, East San Diego County is safer today,” declared San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Sheriff Kelly A. Martinez. Stacey Moy, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Diego field office, thought Let you know, “The FBI is committed to protecting our communities from the high volume of violent crime and criminal activity that accompanies these illegal venues.”
What did “these illegal institutions” do? They sold marijuana, a business California allegedly legalized six years ago.
Of course, the marijuana industry remains completely illegal in the eyes of the federal government. That means anyone who grows or distributes marijuana in California, even with the state’s approval, is committing a federal felony every day.But even President Joe Biden want to keep it that way, he pledged not to interfere with the state rejecting the marijuana ban. So why is the FBI not just cracking down on California marijuana dealers, but also cooperating with local law enforcement?
The explanation, as you might have guessed, is that these particular marijuana merchants violated state and federal laws. Their business is not only “illegal” but also “unlicensed”.However, the fact that unlicensed cannabis dealers continue to thrive in California is a testament to the approach the state is taking botched legalization. Most local governments do not allow recreational sales, even those often impose caps that artificially limit supply.Bureaucratic hurdles, expensive regulation and high taxes are intimidating deterrent For those weed dealers who may lean towards legalization.
These barriers, combined with local bans, explain why unlicensed sales persist account About two-thirds of marijuana purchased in California.as a recent reports From Reason Foundation (published reason) noted that California has one licensed entertainment establishment per 29,282 residents, while Colorado has one per 13,838 and Oregon has one per 6,145. To make matters worse, California’s stores are unevenly distributed across the state, leading to a “massive marijuana desert” where “consumers don’t have access to legal retailers within a reasonable distance of their homes,” the report added.
Instead of addressing these issues, California officials are cracking down on marijuana suppliers who fail to obtain a government license to sell marijuana, even if such a license is difficult or impossible to obtain. They waged this war on marijuana with the help of federal agencies that treat every marijuana business, licensed or not, as a criminal enterprise.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice Report, Shahram Sheikhan and Sabriana Williams pleaded guilty to participating in a marijuana distribution conspiracy. She Khan faces “40 years in prison with a minimum term of five years and a $5 million fine.” Williams faces “20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.” Their convictions are part of “an ongoing investigation by federal and state authorities into unlicensed illegal marijuana dispensaries throughout Southern California.”
The Justice Department said that from 2019 to 2022, “Sheikhan and Williams, among others, operated an unlicensed illicit cannabis business called ‘Cannaland,’ which provided wholesale cannabis and cannabis products primarily to unlicensed and illicit cannabis dispensaries. Supplier.” In Southern California. Additionally, Cannaland itself is an unlicensed illegal cannabis dispensary serving individual clients. “
In addition to Sheikhan and Williams, two other groups of California marijuana dealers recently pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking, money laundering and gun charges. They face maximum sentences ranging from 20 years to life and maximum fines ranging from $1 million to $5 million.
Lance Kachi “admitted to operating multiple unlicensed illegal cannabis dispensaries in Spring Valley and El Cajon.” Kachi, Michael Yono, Avrin Yakou and Fabian Yakou “oversaw multiple unlicensed dispensaries, each generating up to $25,000 per day income, and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” Four brothers – Sean, Alvin, Vincent and Andrew Shamon – admitted to running Babylon Gardens, which “manufactures various cannabis products” and distributed them to Diego “Unlicensed Illegal Cannabis Dispensaries from Los Angeles to San Diego.” “
But due to the lack of a license and Kachi’s unusually convenient hours, neither is any different under federal law, which is normal for the California cannabis industry. Licensed marijuana traders across the state could also find themselves in federal prison for decades if the Biden administration decides to enforce the Controlled Substances Act more aggressively.
San Diego Police Chief David Nislet is “proud of the work done to close these illegal distribution centers and stop the violent crime associated with them.” But despite this claim, and Moy’s reference to “the high volume of violent crime that accompanies these illegal establishments,” none of these defendants has been charged with any form of predatory crime.
From the damn details the DOJ has come up with, it seems clear why some of them have guns. After police seized “five firearms” while executing a search warrant at the Spring Valley Cannaland store last year, “Sheikhan and Williams personally coordinated and assisted in the procurement of replacement firearms for the company’s armed security personnel.”
like Many licensed cannabis dealersIn other words, Sheikhan and Williams feared that their business would be an attractive target for robbers.Continue the federal ban magnifies this risk Making it difficult for cannabis businesses, licensed or not, to access banking services, forcing them to rely heavily on cash.These defendants appear to be potential, if any, victim “Violent crime” not the perpetrator.
Even defensive gun possession, usually protected by the Second Amendment, can become a crime if your business involves psychoactive substances arbitrarily banned by Congress. For example, Kachi was charged with “possessing a firearm to facilitate drug trafficking,” a federal felony that punishable The mandatory minimum sentence is five years. The mandatory minimum sentence is 25 years if a person has been previously convicted of this offence.
Likewise, under federal law, it is irrelevant that Kachi does not have a business license. Even licensed marijuana traders, daring to arm themselves against the risk of robbery, have committed the same crime.
Just as armed self-defense is a crime for anyone in the cannabis industry, ordinary business dealing is a federal felony. Kachi was charged with money laundering, which itself carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, plus a fine of “$500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved.”
To show us how nefarious Kachi’s activities are, the DOJ emphasized that he took a lot of cash. “Cutch and his co-conspirators made millions of dollars,” it said. “Several times a week, Kachi and others would meet at various hotels, where they would spend hours using automated cash counters to count hundreds of thousands of dollars in pharmacy earnings. Before leaving the room, the defendant would pack up and count the cash. machines and the various bills that they credit to profits and expenses, such as the cost of armed security.” Moy observes that “the main motive of drug dealers is greed.”
The profit motive is by no means unique to unlicensed cannabis businesses, and neither are the purse strings. Officially licensed cannabis dealers in California and other states often operate this way due to a lack of banking services. Like Cage, they are both guilty of money laundering.
Kennedy claimed the actions posed a threat to “our youth.” While unauthorized marijuana stores may not be as strict as licensed retailers when it comes to checking customer IDs, the Justice Department bulletin does not include any allegations of distribution to minors. The closest thing is Kennedy’s complaint that “many” unlicensed hotpot restaurants are “open”[ed] near our school” which may mean they are closer than the school 1,000 feet City regulations.
Kennedy also said “illegal marijuana dispensaries are responsible for numerous complaints from members of our community,” although she did not specify the nature of those complaints. Kennedy in 2020 as Chula Vista cracks down on unlicensed dispensaries Say Some are reportedly “selling cannabis to children” or are selling “unregulated products containing prohibited chemicals” San Diego Union-Tribune.
These are legitimate concerns. But the best way to solve these problems is to make it easier to sell marijuana legally. The greater the black market’s share of marijuana sales, the more likely it is that minors will buy or tainted products.
Chula Vista didn’t start accepting applications from potential leisure retailers until 2018. The first such business was Grasshopper Delivery, Open in 2020.it has been added several others. But the city cap The number of pharmacies is 12, or about 1 per 23,000 inhabitants. That’s a bit better than the statewide average, but clearly below what the adult market can afford.It’s worse in San Diego: The city allow No more than 36 recreational pharmacies, or approximately 1 per 39,000 inhabitants. Even without such restrictions, high taxes and onerous regulations make it difficult for licensed stores to compete with the black market.
While the Justice Department suggested unlicensed marijuana dealers posed a particular threat to public safety, it complained that the federal government didn’t get a cut of their profits. “All the different defendants,” it said, “recognize that they are obligated to report their income to the IRS” and “to pay taxes on any income from these illegal businesses that they did not do so.” As compensation for this failure , the defendants “agreed to confiscate the seized cash, currently in excess of $5 million.” As long as the cash is laundered by self-righteous rhetoric, Uncle Sam is more than happy to make money from this apparently unjust business.