Feds Arrest 12 In Alleged Pot Ring Operating in OC & LBC

Twelve people were arrested this morning for conspiracy to distribute marijuana in a case that federal authorities claim involves a ring of pot dispensaries that operated in both Orange County and Long Beach. A 31-page indictment released by the U.S. attorneys office today claims that the shops--nine in total--were all owned by John Melvin Walker, 56, aka "Pops," who allegedly failed to report income from the shops and is also charged with being a felon in the possession of a firearm. 

Walker's name first came up in Nov. 2011, when OC Sheriffs deputies raided one of his shops in Long Beach, Belmont Shore Natural Care. According to the indictment released today, one of his employees claimed Walker had told workers that "they should shred documents related to cash intake at  Belmont Shore Natural Care at the end of the night." Although Walker wasn't arrested during that raid, deputies searched his home and found a handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun, an AK-47, and about $390,000 in cash), which explains the additional charges he faces today.

Also arrested this morning: 

*Ryan Scott Hunt, 36, of Fullerton, who managed Garden Grove Alternative Care

*Perry Brooks Forehand, also known as "Bucky," 33, of Mission Viejo, the manager of Safe Harbor Collective

*Danielle Pamela Stebel, also known as "Mob Queen," 25, of Long Beach, who helped manage Belmont Shore Natural Care

*Nicholas Martin Butier III, 32, of Lakewood, who was the manager of Alternative Herbal Health

*Sierra Marina Serhan, also known as "Hippy Chick,"  33, of Long Beach, who helped manage Belmont Shore Natural Care

*Alvin Wesley Walker, 29, of Long Beach, who is believed to be John Walker's  nephew and who helped manage Belmont Shore Natural Care

*John Eugene Scandalios, 59, of Lakewood, who allegedly supplied marijuana to  Santa Fe Compassionate Health Care

*Karen Lee Leto, 70, of Huntington Beach, who allegedly helped manage Costa Mesa Patients Association

*Craig Lawrence Leto, 49, of Newport Beach who is Karen Leto's son and who allegedly helped manage Costa Mesa Patients Association

*Michael Alan Nixon, 33, of Long Beach, who allegedly supplied marijuana to Santa Fe Compassionate Health Care

*Alan David Nixon, 59, of Long Beach, who is Michael Nixon's father and who allegedly managed Santa Fe Compassionate Health Care.

Two suspects named in the indictment are still at large:
*Ryan Aparicio Mondragon, 30, Westminster, who managed Santa Ana Superior Care, which was also raided previously by Orange County Sheriff's deputies, and whose manager, former L.A.P.D. officer Hank Cousine likely would have been arrested today had he not died this past July of a heart attack.

*Nicholas Einar Lattu, also known as "Dragon 6," 28, of Long Beach, who owned Shadow Ops Security, a company that provided security services to the  marijuana stores, and who is currently being sought by authorities

Not named in the indictment was Long Beach lobbyist Rick Brizendine, who represented Belmont Shore Natural Care in the city's controversial marijuana lottery process, and who was accused (but never charged) by the Sheriff's Dept. of laundering cash for Walker. Today's indictment notes that most of the nine dispensaries Walker operated have closed, although Belmont Shore Natural Care remains open.

All 12 suspects arrested today are being arraigned for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and other charges at the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.

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