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Federal Prosecutors File Asset Forfeiture Lawsuits Against 3 Eagle Rock Pot Shops

Tuesday’s lawsuits are part of wider federal enforcement against 70 medical marijuana storefronts in the city.

Federal prosecutors filed lawsuits Tuesday aimed at seizing the assets of three medical marijuana dispensaries on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock as part of a wider enforcement action against 70 pot shops in Los Angeles and one in the City of Huntington Park.

The federal action, which involves all known marijuana dispensaries in Eagle Rock and downtown Los Angeles, comes just a little more than a week after marijuana advocates submitted enough signatures in a petition to force a referendum on the city's ban on such businesses.

“Over the past several years, we have seen an explosion of commercial marijuana stores—an explosion that is being driven by the massive profits associated with marijuana distribution,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. in a prepared statement. “As today’s operations make clear, the sale and distribution of marijuana violates federal law, and we intend to enforce the law. Even those stores not targeted today should understand that they cannot continue to profit in violation of the law.”

The federal actions in Los Angeles were done with cooperation from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, and the Los City Attorney's office.

Federal prosecutors filed asset forfeiture lawsuits against the Together for Change Collective, a medical marijuana storefront operating at 2501 Colorado Blvd., where a prior marijuana store, American Eagle Collective, was raided by the LAPD in May on narcotics charges. Together for Change is already fighting a civil abatement lawsuit by the city attorney.

During the raid on American Eagle Collective, LAPD officers seized more than 500 marijuana plants and more than $5,000 in cash, as well as $14,912 in cash and a semi-automatic rifle from the home of one of the store’s operators, Birotte said.

Asset forfeiture complaints were also filed against ER Collective, which is located in the same storefront at 1121 Colorado Blvd. where the LAPD served a search warrant in June 2010, seizing about 25 pounds of marijuana, 10 pounds of hashish, liquid THC, and $17,000 in cash, according to Birotte.

The third Eagle Rock dispensary targeted in Tuesday’s enforcement was House of Kush, located at 1632 Colorado Blvd., which is also the target of a lawsuit by the city attorney’s office.

See the attached pdfs for details of the U.S. Attorney's asset forfeiture complaints against the three Eagle Rock marijuana dispensaries.

In separate enforcement actions Tuesday, federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents, accompanied by LAPD officers, served search warrants against three medical marijuana storefronts: Happy Ending Collective, 818 N. Spring St., downtown; Fountain of Wellbeing, 3835 Fountain Ave., in Silver Lake; and Green Light Pharmacy at 522 South Lorena St. in Huntington Park.

Federal prosecutors also sent warning letters to individuals associated with 68 marijuana stores that are either currently in business or were recently closed, the U.S. Attorney said. The warning letters give the storefront owners and landlords 14 days to comply with federal law or risk potential civil or criminal actions.

“As I’ve said before," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement included with the U.S. Attorney's announcement, "in Los Angeles some medical marijuana clinics have been taken over by illegal for-profit businesses that sell recreational marijuana to healthy young adults and attract crime. These stores are a source of criminal activity because of the product they sell and large amounts of cash they have on hand. The LAPD will continue to work with our federal partners to remove these threats from our communities."

Councilmember José Huizar applauded the federal enforcement actions, which began across California earlier this year.

“Storefront medical marijuana dispensaries are not contemplated under state law and are therefore illegal,” Huizar said in a prepared statement. While he supports the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, Huizar said, “the state needs to create a better way of providing access for seriously ill patients while removing the scores of profiteers and recreational users who currently dominate the market.”

Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council President Michael Larsen said he didn't have much to add to "the straightforward commentary" of the U.S. Attorney, LAPD Chief Beck and Councilmember Huizar, except to say that "sometimes the small voice of a strong community like Eagle Rock can make a difference and bring about change."

The best commentary on Tuesday's news, Larsen added, came from LA's Chief Deputy City Attorney Willaim Carter.

"The city has felt like it's been on its own trying to regulate hundreds of pot shops that don't want to be regulated," Carter was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "It's like, be careful what you asked for. If you don't want to be regulated by the locals, you will be regulated by the federal government."

Tuesday’s asset forfeiture lawsuits and warning letters bring to more than 375 the total number of illegal marijuana storefronts targeted so far in the Central District of California, the U.S. Attorney's statement said.

Most of the businesses previously targeted are closed, involved in eviction proceedings by landlords, or they have faced additional federal enforcement actions, the statement said.

Lightnapper October 08, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Mad Mike Larsen @ Reefer Madness Inc. Just because I sign up for Patch using the SO Patch does not necessarily mean I'm "from" or that I reside in SO. I may live in ER and work in SO, or vice versa. I may have a business interest in ER-- independent contractor/sub-contractor; and/or, I may own rental properties-- commercial & residential. Perhaps, I belong to a church or another organization in ER. Maybe my children attend school in ER. I may patronize businesses in ER because I prefer to support ER's "local" economy. Should I just go away because you don't agree with me? As with your other questionable leaps in logic, a clear personal agenda is once again showing-- “Beware the Outsiders!” Truthfully, your PI work is just not very good. Nonetheless, giant leaps in logic aside, the MMD issue is an LA issue and not just a local ER issue-- at least not anymore. Nice try. Since you personally decided to bring it to the forefront with your prohibitionist, Carrie Nation, approach, I feel obligated to interject my humble opinions regarding your non-neutral, illogical, inflammatory, volunteer "civic" involvement. "One for all and all for ML" is not my idea of democracy in action. Sorry, but I'm sticking around and adding to the debate until either SCOTUS rules, the prohibitionists scurry back beneath their rocks, or I move-- whichever comes first. And for the record, I do not use MJ, I just want it to be a democratic process for those who chose to use it. My vote counts.
burned@thestake October 09, 2012 at 12:07 PM
For the Record - I have nothing against Eagle Rock. It's a bit out of the way, for me to hang-out there, but I've never had a bad experience in the area. I've worked in the area doing deliveries. I've passed through. One time, I was quite pleased, to find a tire shop that had a used tire big enough to fit the rim off of a StepVan, and they even mounted it for me (and it was fairly urgent, as I had no spare, and my rig was stuck on the 134E to 2S overpass - on the one week a year when the Metro Freeeway Service Patrol goes on Vacation - that's Between X-mas and New Years). I've even been accused of BEING from Eagle Rock - by an LA County Lifeguard who thought that it was an insult... I thought that it was funny. But there is little that has done more to lower my opinion of Eagle Rock - or it's people - than the unlawful crusade of Michael Larsen, Jose Huizar, and a few of their supporters on this board. 'Cleaning house' in Eagle Rock appears to be the orders of the day - but I'll leave that to the people of Eagle Rock. You folks get to decide who creates the image of Eagle Rock going forward (or if you stick with Larsena dn NopeGuera, perhaps backwards)... I'll leave it to you to decide Mr. Smith. It looks like you've got the sense to do the right thing - for Eagle Rock and the rest of L.A..
burned@thestake October 09, 2012 at 12:09 PM
ERM - I just love you on the Phil Hendry show - you are Bobby Dooley, right?
Tim Tritch October 16, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I never backpeddled an inch, becuase I never made up a story. That was YOU who made up a story. Allow me to relate a funny little family story about lying. many years ago my youngest brother an neice, bot about 10 at the time, were both working on projects for school. They were left alone in the house for a few hours. When mom returned the kitchen was a mess, someone had tried to make a cake, and both accused the other of making the mess. A week later, at a family birthday, we decided to have a mock trial and get to the bottom of this. Each kid had a sawyer, I was the judge, and we called witnesses. Then the final question was asked, "What grade did you get on your project." My neice said she got an A, and my brother said he got a B. OBJECTION<OBJECTION, my neice yelled, and she then presented evidence that my brother actually got a C on his project. ALthough the evidence was sketchy, the fact that my brother had lied in his testimony swayed the decision in favor of my neice. The gavel came down, my brother was guilty. At that point my neice stands up and says, "No double jeopardy,,,I DID IT." The moral of the story is, When you lie to try to justify your actions, it clouds your credibility. ERMOM, a valid as your points are, and as passionately as you feel about your opinions, making up false stories to try to sway people to your side only diminishes your credibility, and calls into question the true validity of other statements.
EagleRockMom October 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM
@Tim Tritch I actually played devil's advocate in that situation and gave you the benefit of the doubt. The apology wasn't genuine, but it was the right thing to do. While I don't believe you weren't in the store because you could be lyIng about that, I opted to drop it. When YOU mentioned your relative was in the store then I knew you were being dishonest about what actually happened. You probably were in that store and you're embarking on this elaborate charade so as not to further embarrass your nice father. Unfortunately, you have done a fantastic job in tarnishing your family's name. What more untruths and back peddling will you post now? I am sure you'll think up something.

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