Multiple Individuals Convicted in Crackdown on Unlicensed Marijuana Dispensary Industry | USAO-SDCA

SAN DIEGO – Shahram “Sean”Sabriana Williams and Sheikhan Williams pleaded guilty today in federal court to drug distribution charges. They are the latest people convicted in an ongoing federal and state investigation into illegal marijuana dispensaries throughout Southern California.

Sheikhan and Williams ran an illegal marijuana business that was unlicensed from at least 2019 through 2022. “Cannaland,”It was primarily a wholesale supplier of marijuana products and marijuana products to illegal and unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in Southern California. Cannaland also operated an unlicensed, illegal marijuana dispensary, serving individual clients.

April 2021 saw law enforcement execute a search warrant at Cannaland. The location at the time was at 10630 Willie Baker Way in Spring Valley. More than 3,000 pounds of marijuana and five firearms were seized during the execution of the search warrant. The street value of the marijuana was more than $6 million. Following the search warrant, Sheikhan and Williams personally coordinated and facilitated the procurement of replacement firearms for the business’ armed security guards and continued to operate their business and distribute vast amounts of marijuana. Sheikhan and Williams both admitted that the total amount of marijuana products distributed over the course of the conspiracy was more than 3,000 kg.

Williams and Sheikhan join many others who have pleaded guilty in federal court to money laundering, firearms, and drug charges as part of this investigation.

“Over the last two years, federal and state law enforcement targeted the operation of dozens of illegal, unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County in order to enforce the law and curtail the related crime alleged in this case,”Grossman said. Grossman thanked the investigating agencies and the prosecution team for their efforts to protect the community.

“The FBI is committed to keeping our communities safe from the vast array of violent crimes and criminal activity which accompanies these illegal establishments,”Stacey Moy, FBI Special Agent in Charge “I want to thank our law enforcement partners at the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the San Diego Police Department, the Chula Vista Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office for their commitment and collaboration on these cases. It’s these ongoing partnerships which enable law enforcement from around the county to be agile and able to handle these types of cases using a variety of investigative techniques with different prosecutive options.”

“IRS has been a part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for over 30 years. ‘Stronger Through Partnership’ is the OCDETF motto, and the success of this highly impactful investigation truly exemplifies that motto,”Ryan L. Korner is the Special Agent in Charge at the Los Angeles Field Office IRS-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI).  “The primary motivation of drug traffickers is greed. They don’t care how their actions negatively impact innocent people, the community, or our society.  The role of IRS-CI is to fully dismantle these criminal organizations by following the money that fuels the drug trade, and ultimately ensure that the peddlers of these illicit drugs do not reap the benefits of their criminal activity.”

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“The Sheriff’s Department has been a proud partner in the collaborative law enforcement response to organized criminal activity related to unlicensed marijuana distribution in the East County,” said Kelly A. Martinez, Undersheriff of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. “Sheriff deputies, investigators, and analysts committed countless hours of investigative support, surveillance, and analysis to this effort.  Today’s outcome is a culmination of the dedication of federal, state, and local law enforcement partnerships in the region which are the hallmark of public safety in San Diego.  East San Diego County is safer today because of this hard work.”

“This operation demonstrates that strong partnerships, including participating on federal task forces, keeps our community safe,” said San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit. “The San Diego Police Department is committed to working with neighboring law enforcement agencies to combat organized crime in our region. We are proud of the work that has been done to close these illegal distribution centers and stop the violent crime associated with them.”

“Illegal marijuana dispensaries have been responsible for numerous complaints by our community members,”Roxana Kennedy, Chief of Chula Vista Police Department, was also added. “We’ve seen many of them open up near our schools over time.  They pose a significant health and safety hazard to the public, especially our youth, and they move around trying to avoid enforcement.  Collaborating with our law enforcement partners in the region and pooling our resources to stop these criminal organizations from putting our communities at risk is absolutely critical.”

Over 30 people have been charged with violating state or federal law. Law enforcement has executed many search warrants. This joint effort has resulted in nearly 30,000 pounds of marijuana, marijuana products, 68 firearms, including ghost weapons, and millions of dollars worth of currency, jewelry and other valuables being seized by law enforcement. As a result, nearly 30 illegal marijuana dispensaries have been shut down.

Two groups of people pleaded guilty in federal courts to charges, apart from Williams and Sheikhan.

Lance Kachi, the first group, admitted to operating multiple illegal, unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in Spring Valley, El Cajon, including locations located at 9545 Campo Road and 9600 Campo Roads, 9070 Jamacha Roads, 985 Greenfield Drive, 9143 Birch Street, and 985 Greenfield Drive. Kachi, Michael Yono (or Fabian Yakou), Fabian Yakou and Avrin Yakou have been overseeing multiple unlicensed dispensaries which would generate as much as $25,000 per day. They were open 24 hours a days, seven days per week.

Kachi and his complicits made millions of dollars through their illegal, unlicensed operation. Kachi and others would meet several times per week at hotels to spend hours counting dispensary proceeds using automated cash counters. Before they left the room, the defendants would take with them their money counters, as well as any notes that they took to account their profits and expenses such as the cost for armed security, and pack them up.

Multiple search warrants were issued by law enforcement in July 2021 to the Kachi operation. Kachi, Yono and the Yakou brothers pleaded guilty in May 2022 to various drug, firearms and money laundering charges. They also forfeited millions of dollars in cash, jewelry and other valuables.

Also in May 2022, a second group, comprised of the Shamoun brothers – Sean, Alvin, Vincent, and Andrew – pleaded guilty in federal court to charges stemming from their wholesale distribution of marijuana products to unlicensed, illegal marijuana dispensaries from Los Angeles to San Diego. Operating under the name of Babylon’s Garden, the Shamoun brothers manufactured a variety of marijuana products at a warehouse in San Diego, which they would deliver directly to dispensaries or ship in the United States mail. Shamoun brothers claimed that their operation was responsible to the distribution and manufacturing of more than 3,000 kilograms.

All of the above mentioned defendants admitted in plea agreements that they were obligated to report income to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).“IRS”) and California state tax authorities, as well as pay taxes on any income derived from these illegal businesses, which they failed to do. Additionally, all individuals agreed that they would forfeit any cash seized, which currently exceeds $5,000,000.

This case is a result of ongoing efforts of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. A partnership that brings together the combined expertise of federal, state, local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF program has the primary mission to identify, disrupt, dismantle, prosecute and prosecute high-ranking members of drug trafficking, weapon trafficking, and money laundering enterprises and organizations.

DEFENDANT                                                           Case Number 22cr1445-CAB                                 

Name

Age

Hometown

Shahram “Sean” Sheikhan

52

Las Vegas, Nevada

SUMMARY CHARGES

Conspiracy To Distribute Marijuana. This is in violation Title 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(c), 846

Maximum Penalties: 40 years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of five years and a $5,000,000 fine.

DEFENDANT                                                           Case Number 22cr1444-CAB                                 

Name

Age

Hometown

Sabriana Wilkins

26

San Diego, California

SUMMARY CHARGES

Conspiracy To Distribute Marijuana. This is in violation Title 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(c), 846

Maximum Penalties: Twenty-years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

DEFENDANT                                                           Case Number 22cr1261-CAB                                 

Name

Age

Hometown

Travis George

44

San Diego, California

SUMMARY CHARGES

Conspiracy To Distribute Marijuana. This is in violation Title 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(c), 846

Maximum Penalties – Forty years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of five years and a fine of $5 million.

DEFENDANT                                                           Case Number 22cr1002-CAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Lance Kachi

33

San Diego, California

SUMMARY CHARGES

Conspiracy To Distribute Marijuana. This is in violation Title 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(c), 846

Conspiracy to Launder Money, in violation Title 18, U.S.C. Secs. 1956(a)(1)(B),(i) & 1956(h).

Possession of a Firearm for the Pursuit of a Drug Trafficking Crime in Violation of Title 18, U.S.C. Sec. 924(c)

Maximum Penalties: 20 years imprisonment, $1 million fine for drug charges. For money laundering, 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $500,000, or twice the value, of the monetary instrument/funds involved.

DEFENDANT                                                           Case Number 22cr1006-CAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Michael Yono

32

San Diego, California

SUMMARY CHARGES

Conspiracy To Distribute Marijuana. This is in violation Title 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(c), 846

Conspiracy to Launder Money, in violation Title 18, U.S.C. Secs. 1956(a)(1)(B),(i) & 1956(h).

Possession of a Firearm for the Pursuit of a Drug Trafficking Crime in Violation of Title 18, U.S.C. Sec. 924(c)

Maximum Penalties for Drug Charges: 20 years in prison and $1 million fine. For money laundering charges, 20 year imprisonment and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of the monetary instrument or funds. For firearms charges, life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of five years and a $250,000 penalty.

DEFENDANT                                                           Case Number 22cr1000-CAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Avrin Yakou

30

San Diego, California

SUMMARY CHARGES

Conspiracy To Distribute Marijuana. This is in violation Title 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(c), 846

Conspiracy to Launder Money, in violation Title 18, U.S.C. Secs. 1956(a)(1)(B),(i) & 1956(h).

Possession of a Firearm for the Pursuit of a Drug Trafficking Crime in Violation of Title 18, U.S.C. Sec. 924(c)

Maximum Penalties for Drug Charges: 20 years in prison and $1,000,000 fine. For money laundering charges, 20 year imprisonment and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of the monetary instrument or funds. For firearms charges, life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of five years and a $250,000 penalty.

DEFENDANT                                                           Case Number 22cr1001-CAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Fabian Yakou

26

San Diego, California

SUMMARY CHARGES

Conspiracy To Distribute Marijuana. This is in violation Title 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(c), 846

Conspiracy to Launder Money, in violation Title 18, U.S.C. Secs. 1956(a)(1)(B),(i) & 1956(h).

Maximum Penalties for Drug Charges: 20 years in prison and $1,000,000 fine. For money laundering charges, 20 year imprisonment and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of the monetary instrument or funds.

DEFENDANTS                                                        Case Number 21cr2994-CAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Sean Shamoun (1)

32

San Diego, California

Alvin Shamoun (2)

41

San Diego, California

Vincent Shamoun (3)

39

San Diego, California

Andrew Shamoun (4)*

35

San Diego, California

SUMMARY CHARGES

Conspiracy To Distribute Marijuana. This is in violation Title 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(c), 846

Conspiracy to Launder Money, in violation Title 18, U.S.C. Secs. 1956(a)(1)(B),(i) & 1956(h).

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges, 40 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $5 million fine (*20 years in prison and a $1 million fine). For money laundering, 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $500,000 or twice as much as the value of the monetary instrument/funds involved.

AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

San Diego Police Department

Chula Vista Police Department

 

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