Federal officials targeting marijuana storefronts and grows in Santa Barbara County
May 3, 2012
In the latest series of actions against the commercial marijuana industry in California, federal authorities this week filed three seizure lawsuits against properties housing marijuana operations in Santa Barbara County, executed search warrants at four locations, and have sent warning letters to people associated with 10 other marijuana stores in the county.
Three civil asset forfeiture complaints for seizure of properties were filed yesterday afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles against properties in Santa Barbara and Summerland where marijuana is being grown or marijuana stores are currently operating. Prosecutors yesterday also sent letters to marijuana store operators and the owners of buildings where 10 marijuana stores currently operate in Goleta, Summerland and Santa Barbara.
The three forfeiture lawsuits filed this week allege that the owners either knowingly allowed commercial marijuana stores to operate or knowingly allowed a significant indoor marijuana farm to function. The buildings named in the forfeiture lawsuits also house:
• Miramar Collective on Ortega Hill Road in Summerland, which local authorities estimate was generating annual profits of approximately $840,000 in 2009, and whose owner is currently being prosecuted by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office on state narcotics charges;
• Pacific Coast Collective on North Milpas in Santa Barbara, whose operator is currently being prosecuted in state court and, even though called “not for profit,” the business is incorporated and does not have non-profit status for tax purposes;
• An indoor marijuana farm on East Haley in Santa Barbara, where substandard and unpermitted electrical equipment has been used.
In conjunction with the filing of the asset forfeiture complaints, letters were mailed out yesterday to the property owners and operators of 10 additional marijuana stores that are either currently operating or were recently closed – six in Santa Barbara, three in Goleta and one in Summerland.
All known marijuana stores in Santa Barbara County are now the subject of federal enforcement actions.