A Modesto area man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly robbing a marijuana dispensary while posing as a sheriff’s deputy. At least five more people involved in the incident are still at large.
Because of legal restrictions, cannabis dispensaries have long had an exceptional vulnerability to robbery. Banking limitations force these businesses to deal almost entirely in cash, a fact that California Treasurer John Chiang said just last week “paints a target on the back of cannabis operators and makes them and the general public vulnerable to violence and organized crime.”
The robbery described above, which occurred in Calaveras County, California, reveals another way that legal stigmas leave cannabis businesses susceptible to crime. Most legal businesses do not expect or fear a visit from the police, but marijuana operations such as dispensaries do.
This possibly left the dispensary in question off their guard last month when at least six people, several of whom were armed, entered the establishment, flashed a fake badge, and identified themselves as law enforcement officials. The assailants then tied up two of the victims, stole 500 cannabis plants, some cash, and a Ford F-250 to haul their loot away in.
After a month of investigation, local law enforcement finally narrowed down one suspect, Jamie Buchanan. Buchanan entered into a day-long standoff with the Amador County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team and Calaveras County Detectives last Wednesday after authorities surrounded the house.
According to the Modesto Bee, law enforcement had an exhausting day making “numerous attempts to contact Buchanan and get him to come out of the house, using a throw phone, a robot, chemical agents and a K9 before entering the home where they found him hiding.” The suspect has not been officially charged in relation to the robbery, but was arrested instead for suspicion of possession of body armor and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Photo by Flickr user aeroSoul