Three Men Operate Illegal, Unregulated Marijuana Dispensaries

Three Men Operate Illegal, Unregulated Marijuana Dispensaries
Photo: The Vault

RIVERSIDE – Three unregulated, illegally-operating cannabis dispensaries under the names of “The Vault Church,” “The Vault,” and “Corona Holy Crossing” were shut down by the Cannabis Regulation Task Force. Operated by the DA’s Office, the dedicated task force protects the legal, properly-licensed cannabis businesses and keeps criminal activity out of communities.

As a result, three men are in the felonious spotlight – each charged with 12 felonies and 16 misdemeanors. Jose Serrano, DOB: 6-28-93, who faces arraignment today, entered not-guilty pleas to all counts at his April 18th arraignment.

The DA’s 28-count criminal complaint also charged Serrano’s brother, Stephen Serrano, DOB: 11-7-95, and Cesar Ramirez, DOB: 9-2-79. Both men have been issued arrest warrants.

“The aim of the task force is not to shut down legally operating facilities,” said the DA PIO John Hall, “but rather to ensure fair business practices.”

A DA Investigator was assigned to the three non-permitted cannabis dispensaries in August 2018. Under investigation were violating operations at 5024 Etiwanda Ave. in Mira Loma, 5298 Mission Blvd. in Jurupa Valley, and 291 N. Yale St. in Hemet.

Undercover purchases made at all three sites resulted in September 2018 search warrants. Authorities seized large amounts of finished cannabis product and cash. “Hundreds of marijuana plants in various stages of maturity were found and seized at the location in Mira Loma,” said Hall.

Two bold moves resulted after the September warrants – another illegal dispensary cropped up in Corona (“Corona Holy Crossing,”) and the Mira Loma location reopened. The task force shut them down – none were licensed by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control. Neither one had a seller’s permit.

Had cannabis dispensaries been permitted in those areas, the required document would have been issued by the state Department of Tax and Fee Administration to collect sales tax for retail cannabis sales.

The felony and misdemeanor counts include “conspiracy to commit the crime of possession of cannabis for sale, maintaining a location for the purpose of selling a controlled substance, money laundering, failure to file sales/use tax, and selling cannabis without a permit.”

“When dispensaries operate without following the law or regulations, their unfair business practices impact those dispensaries which are obeying the law” said Hall. “Illegal or unlicensed dispensaries also may be providing customers with untested and potentially harmful products.”

Agencies currently on the task force include the DA’s Bureau of Investigation, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Hemet Police Department, the Riverside Police Department, and the Temecula Police Department.

Three Men Operate Illegal, Unregulated Marijuana Dispensaries was last modified: April 26th, 2019 by admin
Categories: Riverside

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