Feds Raid Home Linked To Medical Marijuana Seizure

September 28, 2006

, Associated Press

Local and federal drug agents seized 1,100 more plants linked to a medical marijuana shop accused of illegally selling drugs to agents with fake identifications and bogus prescriptions. Officials raided a Hughson home Thursday, the day after drug enforcement agents arrested the directors and employees of California Healthcare Collective.

Directors Luke Scarmazzo, 26, Ricardo Montes, 26, and employees Jose Malagon, 33, and Antonio Malagon, 28, face federal drug charges.

On Wednesday, agents found $16,000 in cash, 34 pounds of pot-laced baked goods, and guns at the shop. The business earned $4.5 million since it opened in late 2004, said Drug Enforcement Agent Gordon Taylor. State law allows only nonprofit cooperatives to distribute marijuana.

Defense lawyer Robert Forkner, who represents the directors, said the shop provided a lawful community service.

A statewide medical marijuana advocacy group agreed.

"These people were helping patients, and that's the bottom line," said Aaron Smith, a coordinator for Safe Access Now. The organization planned to protest the raids Friday.

Scarmazzo and Montes face a 10-year prison sentence, if convicted.

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