Jul 30, 2014

Temecula's Last Pot Co-op Raided

The DEA smashed into the storefront and agents lugged out about a dozen boxes this morning.

Temecula's Last Pot Co-op Raided

Temecula's last medical marijuana organization was raided today.

The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration around 8 a.m. broke into the storefront of Cooperative Patients' Services at 43122 Via Dos Picos.

They spent more than two hours lugging out cardboard boxes and loading them into a large white van before leaving around 11:30 a.m.

Robin Sax, an attorney for the co-op, and Sarah Pullen, spokesperson for the DEA, did not return calls by publication time.

The agents smashed the shop's front doors with batons and stormed in with guns drawn, said Felipe Santoyo, a witness who was working at

"They had cops all over," Santoyo said.

A patient, Darlene Mestas, arrived during the raid to pick up her marijuana-based medication, walked in the door, muttered, "Oh no," and walked away.

She was disappointed to see her favorite source for medical marijuana broken up, but she can get what she needs elsewhere. "I have other sources. I've been around in the (medical marijuana-growing community) for a long time," she said.

She has a condition similar to Lupus that causes her inflammation. She takes CBD, a derivative of marijuana that reduces the symptoms, she said.

"They carried the CBD. It doesn't have THC that gives you a head high," she said.

In the past, she bought her marijuana from Disabled American Veterans Collective in French Valley until the

She then moved to her current supplier, but now she will buy directly from growers, she said.

Not everybody loved the cooperative. It was a bad influence on the neighborhood, said Santoyo, the local mechanic.

"(The raid) is good because (after the co-op moved in) we started getting break-ins in cars," he said.

He recalled one day coming by and finding the front windows shattered -- by burglars, he speculated -- and he bemoaned the shop for attracting violence.

"It's a good thing to get rid of them," he said.

after sheriff's and city officials criticized him for his criminal record.

in the '90s -- before the plant was legal for medicinal use -- and was sentenced to prison time.

in September on suspicion of driving under the influence of methamphetamine and possessing cocaine.

Cooperative Patients' Services is the longest-running shop of its kind within Temecula city boundaries.

At least two other shops opened, but by the city with legal action and in relation to .

Cooperative Patients' Services refused to close down, and the city sued it. , pending a decision on a different case that could determine the co-op's suit's outcome.

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