Jim Kouri
Prop 19: California's marijuana smokers lose, DEA agents win
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By Jim Kouri
November 3, 2010

The California marijuana legalization effort lost by nine percentage points on Election Day. Legalization proponents and activists showed support for the measure by holding a pot smoking rally outside their campaign's headquarters to watch the election returns

Proposition 19 failure to pass was blamed on the turnout of older voters who participate in large numbers in midterm elections. They also blamed the unsuccessful legalization campaign on the fact that there were fewer young voters participating on Election Day.

"It's still a historic moment in this very long struggle to end decades of failed marijuana prohibition," said Stephen Gutwillig of the California Drug Policy Project.

On the same day as voters rejected legalization, the Drug Enforcement Administration successfully ended its investigation into a large-scale marijuana growing ring based in San Joaquin County, California. While the state of California may eventually be on its way to legalizing the cultivation and sale of marijuana in 2012, legalization doesn't appear to be a goal of federal officials who continue to enforce the prohibition of cultivating and selling the drug.

The latest federal enforcement operation in California resulted in the serving of federal search warrants in Tracy, Stockton, Manteca, and Nipomo. As a result of the searches agents dismantled five indoor marijuana grow sites, and seized approximately 2,000 marijuana plants, 50 pounds of processed marijuana, three handguns (two of which were loaded), one shotgun, four vehicles (to include a Lexus, Hummer, & two BMW's), two boats, and approximately $1.5 million.

Six individuals were arrested on federal drug charges.

"It appears that some members of this marijuana trafficking organization acquired a large amount of personal wealth, as evidenced by the assets seized in this investigation. Interagency cooperation was a key factor in locating and dismantling these marijuana grow sites," stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams.

The DEA Sacramento District Office, San Leandro Police Department and the San Joaquin Metropolitan Narcotics Task Force (METRO) conducted this investigation. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, agents believe that the organization is led by Lonnie Terrell, 26, of Tracy, who is the financier and main profiteer of the group. During the course of the case, law enforcement identified multiple suspected indoor marijuana grow locations in San Joaquin County.

On October 27, 2010, law enforcement served multiple federal search warrants. As a result, five marijuana grows were discovered at residences in Manteca, Tracy, and Stockton. One of the indoor marijuana sites was within 1,000 feet of a public high school in Tracy. Large amounts of U.S. Currency were seized from Tracy residences. Additionally, officers found approximately $400,000 buried on the property at a residence related to the investigation in Nipomo, CA.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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