News on Wednesday October 6 Raids in Southern California

On Wednesday there were several Raids in Southern California including Riverside, San Diego, and LA Counties.

Latest news coverage of the raids:

LA WEEKLY: Jason Lockhart’s Pot Shops Targeted As Part Of Southern California Raids That Involve Meth, Cocaine, Tax Evasion Allegations

TOP NEWS: Southern California Locations Raided by Sheriffs

DESERT SUN: Local pot dispensary raided in broad probe

PASADENA STAR NEWS: Officials target alleged illegal drug sales via medical marijuana dispensaries

PRESS ENTERPRISE: RIVERSIDE: Pot dispensary raided, shut down

A Riverside medical marijuana dispensary was raided and shut down Wednesday by investigators who said its owner was suspected of selling cocaine and methamphetamine.

Investigators from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s narcotics bureau and district attorney’s office, as well as agents from the state Franchise Tax Board, raided Compassionate Wellness Center of Riverside and four other dispensaries throughout Southern California.

Eleven people were arrested on suspicion of illegal drug dealing, but their names were not released.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Ralph Ornelas, who oversaw Wednesday’s raids, said they targeted a single group of criminals illegally making and selling cocaine, meth and marijuana at the dispensaries.

The raids were conducted in Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, though no arrests were made at the Riverside dispensary, Ornelas said. In addition to the dispensaries, police raided two processing sites, a grow site and a sailboat.

Authorities seized about 10 pounds of marijuana in the Riverside raid, Ornelas said. In total, they seized 35 marijuana plants, 78 pounds of processed pot, seven gallons of concentrated cannabis oil and 4,000 prepackaged, marijuana-laced edible products. The market value of the seized inventory was estimated at $350,000.

All of the dispensaries raided are owned by the same man, Ornelas said.

“The dispensaries were being run outside the … (boundaries of) law,” he said.

In addition to the suspected illegal drug sales, Ornelas said, the dispensaries’ owner was not paying sales taxes.

He would not identify the owner, but in a civil suit filed in August by the city of Riverside against Compassionate Wellness Center, the owner is listed as Jason Lockhart. Efforts Wednesday to reach Lockhart and his attorney, J. David Nick of San Francisco, were unsuccessful.

In addition to Compassionate Wellness Center in the 10300 block of Hole Avenue in Riverside, authorities also raided The Holistic Collective of Palm Springs in the 2200 block of North Canyon Drive, he said.

“We’re not going after dispensaries that are running within the boundaries of the medical marijuana law,” Ornelas said.

An Inland medical marijuana activist said if the dispensaries weren’t operating within the law, they should be shut down.

“We know that a number of these collectives open out here in Riverside and San Bernardino counties by people who were shut down in LA and Orange counties,” Lanny Swerdlow, head of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project and operator of the Inland Empire Health and Wellness Center in Riverside.

Wednesday’s operation was not connected to the city of Riverside’s effort to shut down medical marijuana facilities through court injunctions, Riverside City Attorney Greg Priamos said.

The city has filed requests for injunctions to close down seven medical marijuana facilities, including Compassionate Wellness Center and two other facilities in the immediate area.

A hearing in the lead case, against Swerdlow’s collective, is set for Oct. 25.

City officials maintain that Riverside’s zoning code prohibits all types of facilities that dispense marijuana. However, some facility operators contend that state law allows patients to form a collective where members with doctor recommendations can obtain the drug.

“We’re a local mom-and-pop operation, with only one location,” Swerdlow said. “We’re probably the most legally compliant medical marijuana operation in the state.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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