and Kern County Sheriff’s Department
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Bakersfield Resident Office and the Kern County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of Joseph W. Fortt, 42, of Caliente, California, on July 20, 2005, for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 marijuana plants.
Fortt, who operates the American Kenpo Kung Fu School of Public Health in Oildale, had over 2,000 marijuana plants at three different locations, including the aforementioned business. The marijuana plants were seized as a result of federal search warrants served at four locations in the Bakersfield area. The business operated as a martial arts school and a marijuana dispensary. The investigation suggests the marijuana dispensary was recently closed, while the martial arts school was open; however, investigative information indicated the marijuana dispensary was to re-open. A rifle and shotgun were seized at one of the marijuana grow sites and a handgun was also seized from Fortt’s vehicle.
The estimated value of the marijuana is $5 million.“ There are a lot of scenarios involved with this case that could have turned out really bad,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gordon Taylor. “Kids have access to a martial arts facility - whose owner has an exorbitant amount of pot plants. That is just a dangerous combination.”
This investigation was initiated by the Kern County Sheriff’s Department in May 2005. Shortly thereafter, DEA was contacted to assist in the investigation. Fortt was taken into custody without incident. This case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of California.
Fortt had an initial appearance today in federal court and remains in federal custody. The Kern County Sheriff’s Department , U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), California Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team (Cal-MMET), Southern Tri-County HIDTA, and Bakersfield Police Department assisted in the investigation and apprehension of Fortt.
Defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven otherwise. For further information please contact DEA ASAC Gordon Taylor at (916) 480-7200.