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Chula Vista Police: All Illegal Pot Dispensaries Now Closed

A Chula Vista police car is pictured in this undated photo.

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A Chula Vista police car is pictured in this undated photo.

The city of Chula Vista has been trying to permanently shutdown illegal dispensaries for years. On Friday officials said all shops in city limit were closed, at least for now.

"We have been listening to our community, responding to complaints and also standing up for legal businesses preparing to open with proper regulation," said Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy during a news conference Friday.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Kennedy said the illegal shops were a danger to the community. Their products were unregulated. They were selling to minors and some had guns. Police said they had seized million in cash from these illegal operations and at least two violent robberies and murders have been linked to them.

City officials said over the last few months 30 illegal dispensaries were raided and shut down. The city has been trying close dispensaries here for at least the last few years. But oftentimes when they’re shut down, they reopen in a new location shortly after.

"Because these illegal shops are so profitable i suspect they have not gone away forever," said Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas.

RELATED: High Hopes For Legal Marijuana Businesses In Chula Vista

Chula Vista City Attorney Glen Googins said this was one of "the most vexing challenges" of his tenure with the city.

"We need to remain vigilant," Googins said. "We celebrate today the elimination of these illegal operations, but they have not gone away."

Googins said the illegal dispensaries would not have been closed if it weren't for the help of the district attorney.

"Really upping the ante on the prosecution both with felony prosecution and with asset seizures," Googins said.

By next month, legal retail dispensaries will be opening in Chula Vista and officials wanted to make sure there was a level playing field. Police said many of the 30 dispensaries closed over the last few months were run by criminal organizations, but they would not identify them.

"Various organized crime sources — because those investigations are still on going I won’t name those groups specifically — but I can tell you there is organized crime backing that is behind these illegal operations," Chula Police Lt. Dan Peak said.

Police said they have a zero tolerance policy for these illegal shops and if more open up they will move quickly to shut them down.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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