SANTA BARBARA — In the early morning hours of Oct. 14, two area marijuana dispensaries allegedly operating outside of state guidelines were raided, resulting in three arrests.
For more than a year, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office had received various complaints related to illegal drug and money-laundering activity at the Helping Hands Wellness Center in downtown Santa Barbara and at Choice Pharmacy in Goleta.
“It was a coordinated effort across the county and into the San Diego area,” said department spokesman Drew Sugars. “Detectives served warrants in seven different locations at the same time.”
The Santa Barbara raid was conducted by both sheriff’s and city police officials in concert with San Diego County authorities who raided both a residence and a retail location in the downtown area of San Diego.
Among the items seized in this most recent action in a prolonged suppression effort to limit the operations of marijuana dispensaries suspected of illegally marketing or growing medical cannabis, sheriff’s detectives booked into evidence several thousand growing plants, several hundred pounds of processed marijuana, ATM machines, cultivation equipment, hashish, hash oil, several locked safes, and more than $85,000 in cash.
Booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for felony drug trafficking and money laundering charges were Craig Corneal, 29, and Laura Bertucci, 27. James Harder, 30, was booked into San Diego County Jail for the same charges, with bail at $2 million. Corneal’s bail was also set at $2 million.