THOUSAND PALMS, Calif.- - A marijuana dispensary operating in Thousand Palms has been raided, according to John Hall, public information officer for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. Hall told News Channel 3's Jeremy Chen that the location is suspected of operating illegally and a search warrant is being served.
Cathedral City Police Department vehicles and other unmarked law enforcement vehicles were spotted on scene starting around 8:30 a.m. this morning. The dispensary is located on the 72900 block of Ramon Road in Thousand Palms. Law enforcement officers were still on scene going in and out of the two-story operation at 9:15 a.m this morning.
Longtime customer Gary Caldwell said he didn't realize Green Empire was operating without licenses or permits.
"They need more control on who leases or rents what for what intent," said Caldwell. "Because it's not a good thing for county regulations its not a good thing for anybody." Caldwell said the same storefront had changed hands at least four times in the last ten years.
The dispensary was one of several I-Team Investigator Brooke Beare looked into in her special I-Team Report, Under the Radar.
The dispensaries had drawn the ire of local residents and business owners. Sergio Ceballos, who runs Sergio's Automotives right next to Green Empire, previously spoke with Brooke about the issues the dispensaries have been causing.
"More trash, like you see right there," Sergio Ceballos gestures to boxes and debris in the back street behind his automotive repair shop. "And at nighttime, I see people at my fence, just looking. Because I got cameras. So I see people just smoking and watching inside."
On January 17, Good Good Dispensary in Thousand Palms was also shut down. Beare previously spoke with Tina Villaseñor, who lives near the dispensary, before the shop was shut down.
"All day, and all night," said Tina Villasenor, who lives near the dispensary. "Since they put in that shop, I see the whole night illegal activities, all the cars, all the little gangs (of people hanging around)."
Green Empire is linked to a limited liability corporation in San Diego. The person associated with that name has multiple aliases and addresses all over the state. As of December, it did not have business license registered in California.
How can you tell if the place where you're buying pot is legal?
"People think that if they see a dispensary that it's operating legally. That's not the case," said John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.
"There's a state website where they can check that. (The business) would also have to have a license posted in the business."
More: I-Team investigations
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