Vagos gang crackdown nets arrests, weapons, drugs

By Mike Cruz, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 10/06/2011 03:46:10 PM PDT

Hundreds of weapons, including an anti-tank gun and a rocket launcher, methamphetamine and cocaine were seized Thursday when several members of the Vagos motorcylce gang were arrested during a seven-county sweep across Southern California.

State agents say 52 search warrants and 12 arrest warrants were served Thursday, resulting in nine actual arrests and targeting the “upper echelon” of the Vagos. Five of the arrests occurred in San Bernardino County.

At a news conference at San Bernardino Police Department, law enforcement officials said the investigation started 18 months ago when they began looking into a narcotics trafficking ring.

That investigation grew to include other alleged crimes by Vagos members, such as solicitation of murder, receiving stolen property, auto theft, perjury, extortion, robbery and rape, state agents said.
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Assistant AG Schons to retire, take new job

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/06/2011 07:11:55 PM PDT

Senior state Assistant Attorney General Gary Schons will retire at the end of the month and will begin a new job at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, officials from both offices said.

San Bernardino County Assistant District Attorney Jim Hackleman also is retiring. His last day is Friday.

Schons and Hackleman oversaw the prosecution of Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum and three former county officials in a sweeping corruption scandal tied to a $102 million legal settlement between the county and Burum’s development consortium, Colonies Partners LP. In a joint prosecution, the District Attorney’s and state Attorney General’s offices allege the settlement was tainted by bribery and extortion.
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Calfornia attorney general explains decision to leave mortgage settlement talks

Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/04/2011 03:56:03 PM PDT

State Attorney General Kamala Harris said Tuesday she left national settlement talks with lenders over potential mortgage and foreclosure violations because she doesn’t expect a deal will provide enough compensation for troubled California homeowners.

“I do not believe that the total number of Californians who are in foreclosure would be eligible for relief,” Harris said in a conference call with reporters.

Harris also said she was concerned that a deal would allow lenders to escape civil, or even criminal, penalties for alleged wrongdoing.
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California attorney general explains her leaving mortgage settlement talks

By Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/04/2011 03:56:03 PM PDT

California Attorney General Kamala Harris held a conference call today to explain her decision to leave national settlement talks with lenders over potentially illegal mortgage and foreclosure practices.

In the call, Harris said the state is experiencing a renewed wave of foreclosures and that the dollar figures being discussed in negotiations would not be sufficient to provide relief to Californians at risk of foreclosure.

Harris first announced her withdrawal from settlement talks on Friday. Her leaving clears the way for California to press its own investigation of lending and foreclosure practices, which she said may lead to civil or even criminal filings against lenders.
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Medical marijuana guidelines released by AG’s Office

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown made progress today in the debate over medical marijuana in the state by issuing a landmark set of guidelines regarding the drug.
This is the first set of guidelines that clarifies state law since California voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, according to a news release sent out today by the Attorney General’s office.
In the announcement Brown makes a stark distinction between medical marijuana and street drugs, and his guidelines call for coalitions and cooperatives to not operate for profit, buy only from lawful suppliers and keep patient records.
Brown also suggests patients participate in the state Department of Public Health’s registration program to receive an identification card that protects the holder from arrest.
See the press release below:

Atty. General Brown Issues Medical Marijuana Guidelines for Law Enforcement and Patients

SACRAMENTO–California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today released guidelines that, for the first time since California’s Proposition 215 was passed in 1996, clarify the state’s laws governing medical marijuana and provide clear guidelines for patients and law enforcement to ensure that medical marijuana is not diverted to illicit markets.

“California voters approved an initiative legalizing medical marijuana, not street drugs. Marijuana intended for medicinal use should not be sold to non-patients or on illicit markets,” Attorney General Brown said. “These guidelines will help law enforcement agencies perform their duties in accordance with California law and help patients understand their rights under Proposition 215.”

This landmark document marks the first attempt by a state agency to define the types of organizations that are legally permitted to dispense marijuana. Brown’s guidelines affirm the legality of medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives, but make clear that such entities cannot be operated for profit, may not purchase marijuana from unlawful sources and must have a defined organizational structure that includes detailed records proving that users are legitimate patients.

“We welcome the Attorney General’s leadership and expect that compliance with these guidelines will result in fewer unnecessary arrests, citations and seizures of medicine from qualified patients and their primary caregivers,” said Americans for Safe Access Attorney Joe Elford. “No one benefits from confusion over the law. These guidelines will help patients and law enforcement better understand California’s medical marijuana laws.”

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, an initiative that exempted patients and their primary caregivers from criminal liability under state law for the possession and cultivation of marijuana. In addition, The Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMA), enacted by the Legislature in 2004, intended to further clarify lawful medical marijuana practices by establishing a voluntary statewide identification card system, specific limits on the amount of medical marijuana each cardholder could possess, and rules for the cultivation of medical marijuana by collectives and cooperatives. According to Americans for Safe Access, California has more than 200,000 doctor-qualified medial cannabis users.

Several law enforcement agencies have requested that the Attorney General issue guidelines regarding the lawful possession, sale and cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. These law enforcement agencies believe that individuals and cartels, under the cover of Proposition 215, have expanded illegal cultivation and sales of marijuana, which has led to an increase in drug-related violent crime. Most researchers agree that the U.S. marijuana crop has seen a sharp increase in the past decade. A report, “Marijuana Production in the United States” by drug-policy researcher Jon Gettman, estimated that in 2006, more than 21 million pot plants were grown in California at a street value of up to $14 billion.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, President of the California Police Chiefs Association, praised Brown for establishing these guidelines. “Since Proposition 215 was passed, the laws surrounding the use, possession and distribution of medical marijuana became confusing at best. These newly established guidelines are an essential tool for law enforcement and provide the parameters needed for consistent statewide regulation and enforcement.”

The guidelines encourage patients to participate in the California Department of Public Health’s registration program to obtain a medical marijuana identification card. The identification card protects the holder from arrest for marijuana possession and is one of the best ways to ensure the non-diversion of medical marijuana. Collectives and cooperatives are advised to keep files on their patients with documented verification of their qualified status.

A copy of the Guidelines is attached.

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