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Marijuana, a popular recreational drug, has found a home in California through medical dispensaries, and also through illicit sales. The authorities are cracking down on the drug, whether it be through destruction of illegal farms or harsh punishments for dealers.

In Ventura County, a three-month investigation led to the arrest of three suspects and the destruction of over 55,000 marijuana plants in Los Padres National Forest last week.

During surveillance, police saw two of the suspects walking from one of the marijuana gardens. One the suspect was arrested while the second ran on foot and was not immediately found, police said.

Further investigation led authorities to a house in Bakersfield, where a man was seen dropping off workers for the same garden. A search of the man’s residence found a pound of marijuana, a handgun and equipment used to grow pot, police said.

Since May, more than 55,000 plants from seven different growing operations have been eradicated from the same area. Police said the estimated street value of the seized marijuana was about $165 million.

Closer to home, in Orange County, a man who ran a string of illegal marijuana dispensaries was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison Monday and ordered to pay more than $4.2 million in restitution. 

John “Pops” Walker, 56, of San Clemente, pleaded guilty in an April plea agreement to drug trafficking, tax evasion and owning weapons as part of the drug trafficking. Walker was indicted last fall along with 13 other defendants by a federal grand jury. 

As the head of the drug ring, Walker operated at least nine dispensaries set up in Los Angeles and Orange counties. He admitted to prosecutors that he made more than $25 million over six years and paid taxes on only a fraction of it.
Walker was ordered Monday to pay $2.4 million to the Internal Revenue Service and $1.8 million to the California Board of Equalization. 

The government also seized $25 million in income, his multimillion-dollar home in San Clemente, several mobile homes in Mammoth Lakes, a property in Long Beach and his stake in two strip clubs. He was also sentenced to 262 months in federal prison.

Individuals charged with drug offenses in California can face severe consequences, ranging from a fine and community service to years in prison. Effective legal representation is important to ensure that your rights have not been violated and to provide an aggressive defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Brower & Associates are ready to fight for you, call Brower & Associates to receive help with your case. 

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