SANTA BARBARA — In the county’s ongoing campaign to bring the highest levels of law enforcement to bear upon the area’s controversial proliferation of illegally-operated marijuana dispensaries, city narcotics detectives executed a coordinated, multi-target series of raids early Friday morning.
According to the Santa Barbara Police Department media release, detectives served search and arrest warrants at Hortipharm, a retail facility located on one of the city’s busiest commercial thoroughfares.
“We had evidence that Hortipharm has been operating outside the guidelines of the Compassionate Use Act,” department spokesman Lt. Paul McCaffrey said to television news media, describing the operation as violating laws prohibiting marijuana sales, possession and cultivation. “We also have evidence of active money laundering,” he added, “using a local pizza parlor as their cover.”
The warrants authorized police searches of Pizza Guru, owned and operated by Joshua Braun, 33, and his wife, Dayli Braun, 26, who were both arrested in a Goleta motel several hours after the initial warrant searches. They have been booked on multiple felony charges including possession of marijuana for sales and are currently in custody at Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $1million each.
Concurrent with the raid and investigation at Hortipharm, Santa Barbara police, working in tandem with Santa Barbara County sheriff’s narcotics detectives, served warrants on five additional locations within the county, seizing large quantities of marijuana, hashish and assorted paraphernalia.
In connection with those raids, McCaffrey said authorities “also seized sophisticated equipment specifically used in the cultivation of marijuana.” Additional suspects arrested for possession of marijuana for sales are Carl Quinn, 31, Nicole McKernan, 24, and George Wardlaw, 46, with bails set at $30,000-$50,000 each.
“We expect more arrests in this case,” McCaffrey added.