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Feds Raid North Hollywood Area Pot Shop and Charge 6 From Another With Drug Trafficking

NoHo Caregivers generated an estimated $14 million in 8 months, according to the charges.

Making good on threats to in California that were issued Friday, federal officials have charged six people connected to a pot shop in the North Hollywood area with drug trafficking charges, according to a report in the Daily News.

The report identified NoHo Caregivers as the shop, which is a now-closed dispensary that was located at 12518 Vanowen St. in Valley Glen.

In relation to the NoHo Caregivers case, federal agents on Wednesday executed a search warrant at NoHo's former location, which is now occupied by a pot shop called Green Camel Collective, according to reports in the LA Weekly and USA Today. During the search, agents found two 16-year-old boys who were smoking marijuana inside the store and seized about 23½ pounds of marijuana and nearly a pound of hashish, according to the reports.

The actions taken against NoHo Caregivers and Green Camel by the feds were the only ones that took place in Los Angeles this week. Criminal actions were also filed against a facility in Orange County and stores in Dana Point, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest,, Rancho Santa Margarita and in Riverside County and the Inland Empire, according to the reports.

NoHo Caregivers on Vanowen had also been facing legal pressure from the Los Angeles City Attorney after it received a letter in the spring because it had not registered for a planned city lottery that will only allow 100 shops to stay open. It isn't clear if its closing was related to the letter. 

According to the reports, federal officials said investigators intercepted encrypted Blackberry messages of people connected with NoHo Caregivers detailing plans for the payment and distribution of marijuana that would result in the principals receiving more than $194,000 a month.

"It is important to note that for-profit, commercial marijuana operations are illegal not only under federal law, but also under California law," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said at a press conference Friday announcing the new aggressive federal policy. "While California law permits collective cultivation of marijuana in limited circumstances, it does not allow commercial distribution through the store-front model we see across California."

Meanwhile, medical marijuana advocates are furious at President Obama's reversal of a federal hands-off policy toward California's medical marijuana industry that had been in place since he took office.

"Aggressive tactics like these are a completely inappropriate use of prosecutorial discretion by the Obama administration," said Joe Elford, a lawyer with Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group. "President Obama must answer for his contradictory policy."

The defendants in the NoHo Caregivers case were identified as Paul A. Montoya, 37, of Arleta; Noah Josh Kleinman, 36, of Santa Clarita; Kathy Thabet, 25, of Los Angeles; James Stanley, 33, of Grass Valley, Bryant Satson, 43, of Pennsylvania, and Casey Wheat, 40, of Huntington Beach.

According to the L.A. Weekly:

  • Montoya was a co-owner of NoHo Caregivers  and was arrested on Wednesday;
  • Kleinman was a co-owner of NoHo and has agreed to surrender to federal authorities;
  • Thabet was a courier and bookkeeper for the organization and was arrested on Wedneday;
  • Stanley is an alleged marijuana grower and is currently a fugitive;
  • Watson, a NoHo customer on the East Coast, was arrested in Pennsylvania on Wednesday;
  • Wheat, who allegedly arranged to transport marijuana for NoHo, is currently a fugitive.

 

The City News Service contribued to this report.

lamedicalmarijuana October 08, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Under Prop 215 storefronts are required for people to have safe access the reason being is not everyone can grow their own medical marijuana. This article is foolish to assume that all patients can physiclly grow their own medication or have the means to do so. This is why prop 215 legally allows the storefront model; prop 215 guarantees safe access to medical MJ. For people who don't grow or can't grow the store front model is a necessity to have safe acess to medical MJ. Pot Shops are a necessity for the terminally ill who MUST get their medication via donation at a store front.
Therese October 08, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Maybe instead of having storefronts, people can sell seeds so people can grow their own, indoors or out. Anyway, I read that if storefronts are not allowed, it might be possible to have a delivery service, like ordering pizza. I don't use pot, I don't like what it did to my ability to do normal logical thinking when I used it in the past. If anyone's interested, it takes about six months to get the cannabis chemicals out of your body. However, if someone else wants or needs it, I support that. It is good for mitigating bad moods, has good effect on asthma, and some other things. People need to lighten up. There are worse things one can do than take pot. I do wish people would use it as a food instead of smoking it though, because burning creates carcinogenic compounds.
lamedicalmarijuana October 08, 2011 at 10:24 PM
@Therese physically disabled do not have the ability to grow their own. Get real store fronts are legal under prop 215 No journalistic outlet is writing about the necessity of store fronts for the terminally Ill! And it makes me think American journalism is dead
Therese October 09, 2011 at 02:04 AM
Most people don't think marijuana is a necessity, no matter what you have to deal with. They certainly don't think marijuana is a medicine.
Ray Newton October 09, 2011 at 02:30 PM
It just needs to be regulated. If its a law, keep it enforced. Even with the state or city law their are still stores that have recently opened unlawfully using loopholes that greedy attorney's come up with. And look at the profits. Dont you think most of that is getting back to the cartels in Mexico Just watch Border Wars. If you get high get high. Just lets not be ignorant. As the bottom line here for those selling it is the money.
Larry On Lankershim October 10, 2011 at 10:40 AM
The federal level war on medical marijuana, and the illegality of marijuana in general is simply another hot button issue used for political reasons to show how tough on crime the power brokers are that are seeking votes... Instead of wasting precious time on that, they ought to be busting predatory lenders and those who operate fraudulent investment schemes.
Jean Jacques L'Emasse October 10, 2011 at 12:28 PM
it's federal law. until you get that changed the turds in washington are going to be whacking you over the head. to change the federal law will be a long, protracted battle and raids like these shouldn't be surprising. again obama wusses out.
Pat June 09, 2012 at 10:25 PM
They probably would if those predatory lenders were illegally growing and selling marijuana on the side. ;)
Therese June 10, 2012 at 03:00 AM
If you can move around, you can grow your own marijuana. Chances are, if you can't grow your own, you also can't use the stuff. It can be grown indoors too. And, I recommend putting it into baked goods, you can boil the pot leaves and twigs in a large pot of water, add butter to absorb the chemical, and then filter out the unwanted solids with a coarse mesh. The remainder can be refrigerated and the butter reclaimed. This is what you bake with. Anything that calls for butter or margarine, you can use this green butter instead.

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