The California cannabis industry is still in shock from the death of an Oakland Police officer last Friday.

Officer Tuan Le was part of an overnight operation targeting the frequent break-ins facing Oakland on a nightly basis, many of them targeting the cannabis industry. The task force was responding to the second break-in of the night at the same distributor. That was three hours after they had cleared it following the initial robbery. While exiting the dispensary, the robbers opened fire on the unmarked police car Le was in with his partner. Le was hit, and fellow officers put him in the back of another police vehicle and rushed him to Highland Hospital. He died a few hours later. 

The California cannabis industry had grown accustomed to waking up to the news of who had been hit overnight with separate crews targeting it all over the state. But the news of a police officer losing his life in the line of duty while responding to a robbery at a dispensary hit like a shockwave. Especially, given the industry’s hopes for more protection, we posted an article on the subject the morning Le was killed. He died doing exactly what we called for in the piece, real cannabis enforcement actually targeting those targeting the industry. 

Officer Tuan Le

Courtesy of The City of Berkeley.

In the eyes of many, the violence of last Friday morning moved the ongoing cannabis crime wave into its next chapter. Some expect an uptick in enforcement but what might look like? Given the struggles California has had containing the issue on its own, there are starting to be presumptions the feds will get more involved in the enforcement to come. 

For an example of this type of effort, the federal government would be organizing something similar to the two recent task forces that saw 23 people arrested and charged with the robberies of 40 dispensaries. The Denver District Attorney’s office noted the arrests were the result of lengthy, multi-agency investigations conducted by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, Denver Police Department, Aurora Police Department, FBI, ATF, the Regional Anti-Violence Enforcement Network (R.A.V.E.N.), and the Violent Criminal Enterprise Task Force (V.C.E.T.F.).

“RAVEN is a locally unified task force that exemplifies ATF’s commitment to relentlessly target violent criminals and their organizations,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Brent Beavers. “We are once again grateful for the Denver District Attorney’s Office and their team of prosecutors who have always stood ready for the task of prosecuting violent offenders.”

These violent crews are not just in Denver and Oakland. Numerous markets have been targeted in California, especially downtown Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Zugatti’s Director of Cultivation, Sean Curtis, noted some of the local problems. 

“As much money as we pay in taxes, and as many robberies as there are, I think there should be a special task force specifically for green zones,” Curtis told L.A. Weekly. “I have a licensed facility in Skid Row, in the past 3-4 months there have been six robberies within two blocks of my facility. One of them resulted in the cops killing two armed men.”

Curtis noted last week, the security from another facility came to talk to his guard because he was approached by guys driving three new Broncos and they told him when they came to rob the place if he didn’t leave, they would shoot him. 

“What the fuck are we supposed to do?” Curtis said, “I have on camera, three patrol SUVs caught a group of guys breaking into a warehouse across the street, the cops had the guys against the fence, had their cop trucks parked in the street with their headlights on the robbers and then they let them go! The guys came back within 10 minutes.”

We’ll keep an eye on where enforcement goes from here. 


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