Inland Empire Marijuana Operation Dismantled
June 14 (Riverside, CA) - The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced that operators of an Inland Empire chain of marijuana stores and others associated with a warehouse where drugs were cultivated for the stores were arrested this morning on federal drug trafficking charges.
A six-count indictment returned last week by a federal grand jury charges the three owners and operators of G3 Holistic stores in Upland, Colton and Moreno Valley.
The indictment also charges three people who allegedly worked at a large grow operation in an Ontario warehouse that supplied marijuana to the three G3 stores.
The indictment and arrests come after the owners of the stores received written warnings about eight months ago that G3’s marijuana stores were operating in violation of federal law. While G3’s owners and operators shuttered the stores in Colton and Moreno Valley, the Upland store remained open, even after federal authorities executed two separate search warrants at the Upland location, filed an asset forfeiture lawsuit against the property housing the G3 Upland store, and filed a second asset forfeiture lawsuit against nearly $11,500 in cash seized in November by federal agents during the execution of search warrants at the Upland store and the residence of the lead defendant.
The G3 indictment unsealed this morning charges:
• Aaron Sandusky, 41, of Rancho Cucamonga, who is a founder and owner of G3;
• John Leslie NuckollsII, 31, of Rialto, who is a founder and owner of G3 and who has called himself the CFO of G3;
• Keith Alan Sandusky, 44, of Rancho Cucamonga, who was in charge of day-today operations of G3;
• Paul Neumann Brownbridge, 29, of Upland, who worked at the Ontario grow operation;
• Richard Irwin Kirchnavy, 45, of Rancho Cucamonga, who worked at the Ontario grow; and
• Brandon Anton Gustafson, 30, of Yucaipa, who worked at the Ontario grow site. All six defendants are expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside. (Subsequent court hearings will be in federal court in Los Angeles.)
The indictment charges all six defendants in a conspiracy to manufacture and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. The indictment also charges all six with possession with intent to distribute marijuana. These two charges each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.
Additionally, each defendant is named in at least one count of maintaining drug-involved premises, a charge that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The government’s previously filed civil forfeiture complaints allege that a financial analysis by IRS agents identified 19 different bank accounts associated with G3 Holistic Inc., Sandusky and Nuckolls, and that those accounts received deposits of more than $3.3 million during an eight-month period in 2011. The IRS analysis also revealed withdrawals from the accounts in an amount almost equal to the $3.3 million in deposits, which were “believed to be intended to maintain the facade of G3 Holistic as a non-profit organization.”
The indictment targeting the operators of the G3 store is the second criminal case against the operators of a retail outlet in the Los Angeles area that is part of the marijuana enforcement initiative announced by the California United States Attorneys in October (For a discussion of the first criminal action filed as part of the initiative, see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2011/144.html . A trial in the NoHo Caregivers case is scheduled for February 26, 2013.)The investigation into G3 was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS - Criminal Investigation, which received considerable assistance from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the Ontario Police Department and the Upland Police Department.