Los Angeles: On August 3rd, 2011 at approx 11 a.m. the LAPD Devonshire Narcotics Enforcement Detail set up to serve a search warrant at 8244 White Oak Ave the White Oak Healing Center, a so called Medical Marijuana Dispensary. This was the location of an attempted murder investigation late last year wherein the owner’s son (Elias George) was shot multiple times in what had all the appearances of an organized crime style hit. The resulting attempt murder investigation by LAPD West Valley Area Homicide led to information that the store owner, Raymond George, was involved in the interstate transportation and sales of marijuana and cocaine to the Midwest.
A High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Team (Joint Federal and State Narcotics Task Force) in Ohio in coordination with LAPD Devonshire Narcotics Enforcement Detail investigated Mr. George and his associates. Over the next few months investigating officers learned Mr. George maintained residences in Los Angeles and the Cleveland, Ohio area. He ran the White Oak Healing Center as a retail storefront for the cultivation and sale of marijuana and as a location to facilitate the wholesale sale and distribution of cocaine. Devonshire Narcotics Enforcement Detail Detectives conducted their side of the investigation on the White Oak Healing Center including undercover purchases of marijuana determining it was being operated in violation of state law. They obtained a search warrant for the location and Mr. George.
While set up and staged to serve the warrant Devonshire, West Valley and Ohio HIDTA Officers received last minute information that Mr. George was inside the location armed with an AK 47 assault rifle, a .380 auto and his pet Pit Bull. Officers were aware the location was fortified with steel security doors front and rear, numerous security cameras and other interior fortifications. Further, it was located in a strip mall of other legitimate businesses and directly across the street from Pinecrest Elementary School. It had opaque windows with three large green crosses adorning its storefront location.
LAPD SWAT was notified of the updated information and took over tactical service of the warrant. Devonshire and West Valley Narcotics Enforcement Detail officers maintained surveillance of the location. While SWAT officers were preparing to serve the warrant Mr. George and several of his associates arrived at the location and negotiated the sale and delivery of six kilos of cocaine. Also, several marijuana sales were completed to various customers. Ultimately, the five suspects involved in the cocaine deal were detained leaving the location prior to SWAT’s arrival. Once SWAT officers arrived they surrounded the location and ordered Mr. George to exit. He did so and was taken into custody without incident. SWAT entered and determined there were no other occupants except Mr. George’s docile Pit Bull.
Investigating officers discovered a sophisticated hydroponic marijuana growing operation with approximately 300 plants, a storefront marijuana sales office replete with different strains of marijuana buds, hashish, marijuana edibles and a price board listing the required “donation” amount for each item. Officers also recovered a plastic pill bottle containing over 120 oxycodone pills in the sales office, the loaded AK 47, two loaded pistols (.40 cal and. 380) as well as $6,658.00 in cash.
A total of nine kilos of cocaine were recovered from one of the suspect’s vehicles that had left the location prior to warrant service. This vehicle and two others including, one belonging to Mr. George with Ohio license plates on it, were seized because they had all been modified with secret storage compartments for transporting narcotics.
Six suspects were arrested for conspiracy to sell cocaine and marijuana. Their bail was set at 1.5 million dollars each.
Raymond George, 60 years old
Halz Carrera, 51 years old a resident of Los Angeles, CA
Reginald Beijer, 59 years old a resident of Pasadena, CA
Francisco Franco, 41 years old a resident of Riverside, CA
Francisco Vallejo, 30 years old a resident of Tijuana, Mexico
Alfredo Gonzalez 51 years old a resident of Pasadena, CA
In recent years, many persons have either misunderstood the law, or tried to get around the law, in order to set up for profit cultivation and/or distribution centers claiming to be medical marijuana clinics, dispensaries, cooperatives and clubs such as this one. They set up next to legitimate businesses, schools, and even day care centers. Many of these businesses are supported by the same criminal element that would be selling drugs even if they could not hide behind the laws written to help people with serious illnesses. There is no provision in the California Compassionate Use Act (CUA – Prop 215) or Medical Marijuana Program (MMP- SB 420) for the retail sale of marijuana.
The Devonshire Narcotics Enforcement Detail has been on the forefront of investigating these so called Medical Marijuana Dispensaries. While they had received ancillary information that some of these locations had been involved in the sale of other types of narcotics this is the first one wherein direct evidence of this activity was obtained.
At one point in time over sixty of these locations were operating in the Devonshire Area. The Devonshire Narcotics Enforcement Detail has individually investigated over thirty of these locations and found that all the ones they have investigated were operating in violation of state law. In all of those cases the store owners were arrested and prosecuted for various felony offenses including sales of marijuana, cultivation of marijuana, money laundering, sales tax evasion and/or maintaining a premise for the sale and/or use of narcotics. In conjunction with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the California Narcotics Officers Association training has been provided throughout the State of California on the investigative paradigm unique to these operations. Consequently, hundreds of these illicit operations have been shut down throughout the state of California either by direct enforcement or self abatement. Fewer than five presently operate in Devonshire Area.
For further information please contact Detective Robert Holcomb, Devonshire Narcotics Enforcement Detail at 818-832-1131.