The federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in Southern California continued today as the U.S. Attorney's Office announced the arrests of 12 people associated with a chain of pot shops.
John Melvin Walker operated 9 dispensaries in L.A. and Orange counties, feds say, and he topped the list of arrestees this morning.
A federal indictment against him alleges …
… failure to report taxable income, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and maintaining a drug location near schools.
Feds say most of the the 9 stores had been raided and closed in 2010 and 2011 but that at least one, Belmont Shore Natural Care, might have been still operating.
The shops include, according to a U.S. Attorney's statement …
… Alternative Herbal Health in Long Beach, Safe Harbor Collective in Dana Point, Garden Grove Alternative Care in Garden Grove, Santa Ana Superior Care in Santa Ana, Belmont Shore Natural Care in Long Beach, Santa Fe Compassionate Health Care in Santa Fe Springs, Costa Mesa Patients Association in Costa Mesa, the Whittier Collective in Whittier, and APCC (also known as the “San Juan Capistrano Store”) in San Juan Capistrano.
Authorities allege the shops generated tens of millions in revenue that was under the radar of the IRS.
In fact the indictment accuses Walker of encouraging document shredding in the name of tax dodging. The suspect, who had previously been convicted of cocaine and pot charges, was also allegedly in possession of an AK-47 and shotgun, which would be against the law since he's a former felon.
Defendants, according to the feds, include:
-John Melvin Walker, also knows an “Pops,” 56, of San Clemente, the owner/operator of the nine marijuana stores;
-Ryan Aparicio Mondragon, 30, Westminster, who managed Santa Ana Superior Care and who is currently being sought by authorities;
-Danielle Pamela Stebel, also known as “Mob Queen,” 25, of Long Beach, who helped manage Belmont Shore Natural Care;
-Nicholas Einar Lattu, also known as “Dragon 6,” 28, of Long Beach, who owned Shadow Ops Security, a company that provided security services to the marijuana stores, and who is currently being sought by authorities;
-Ryan Scott Hunt, 36, of Fullerton, who managed Garden Grove Alternative Care;
-Perry Brooks Forehand, also known as “Bucky,” 33, of Mission Viejo, the manager of Safe Harbor Collective;
-Nicholas Martin Butier III, 32, of Lakewood, who was the manager of Alternative Herbal Health;
-Sierra Marina Serhan, also known as “Happy Chick,” 33, of Long Beach, who helped manage Belmont Shore Natural Care;
-Alvin Wesley Walker, 29, of Long Beach, who is believed to be John Walker's nephew and who helped manage Belmont Shore Natural Care;
-John Eugene Scandalios, 59, of Lakewood, who allegedly supplied marijuana to Santa Fe Compassionate Health Care;
-Karen Lee Leto, 70, of Huntington Beach, who allegedly helped manage Costa Mesa Patients Association;
-Craig Lawrence Leto, 49, of Newport Beach who is Karen Leto's son and who allegedly helped manage Costa Mesa Patients Association;
-Michael Alan Nixon, 33, of Long Beach, who allegedly supplied marijuana to Santa Fe Compassionate Health Care;
-Alan David Nixon, 59, of Long Beach, who is Michael Nixon's father and who allegedly managed Santa Fe Compassionate Health Care.
All of the above are charged with conspiracy. (Walker, as noted above, was hit with other charges too).
They were scheduled to be arraigned in Orange County federal court this afternoon. Two others also indicted were not arrested as part of this morning's actions.