Feds raid three SF pot clubs

June 22, 2005

Jaxon Van Derbeken, SF Chronicle

Federal agents raided three San Francisco medical marijuana dispensaries today as part of a broader investigation into money laundering and Asian organized crime, authorities said.

The operation targeted two cannabis clubs on Ocean Avenue and another on Judah Street, and came just two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court — in a crushing blow to the medical marijuana movement — ruled that the federal government had the authority to prosecute people whose actions are legal under state law.

Law enforcement sources said the clubs were not targeted for drug operations but say they were allegedly being used as fronts for money-laundering operations.

Federal agents, in some cases joined by San Francisco police, raided 20 homes and businesses in the city today as part of the operation, sources told The Chronicle.

“It’s a large scale operation,’’ said Javier Pena, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The indictments that led to the raids have been sealed, he said, and he could not comment further.

San Francisco police narcotics Capt. Tim Hettrich confirmed that his officers had assisted in the operations but had not taken part in the raids on the medical marijuana dispensaries.

The city is home to 44 medical marijuana dispensaries, more than any other city in the nation. Residents and city officials have grown increasingly frustrated that San Francisco’s 2-month-old moratorium on the clubs appears to be having little effect, with as many as six new clubs opening in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, joined by Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, introduced a resolution urging City Attorney Dennis Herrera to take action against the illegal clubs.



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