Saturday, July 4, 2009

Month-long probe of alleged pot growers, dealers yields arrests : Marijuana worth $800,000 is seized

Morgan Hoover

July 4, 2009 7:44 AM

Marijuana worth $800,000 has been taken off the streets by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, which arrested three men after a month-long investigation into cultivators and dealers.

Michael Shapiro, 69, of Goleta, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and cultivation, possession and transportation of marijuana and released.

Misha Ford, 35, of Summerland was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail on suspicion of conspiracy, cultivation, transportation and possession of marijuana for sale and possession of cocaine.

Donald Bullick, 60, of Montecito, was also released after being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy, cultivation and possession of marijuana for sales and possession of psilocybin.

During warrant searches of the suspects' homes, more than 400 growing marijuana plants were found in what police are calling "sophisticated gardens." Detectives also seized five pounds of processed marijuana worth an estimated $20,000.

On top of the pot, detectives discovered four grams of cocaine, psilocybin, ecstacy pills and $18,000.

Investigators became aware of the suspects when they intercepted a parcel of marijuana that was being shipped to New York.

Investigators say the growing operation was allegedly outside the provisions of California's Proposition 215 Compassionate Use Act.

During the investigation, Mr. Ford allegedly sold marijuana openly in the presence of an undercover officer and he and Mr. Shapiro are alleged to have shipped pounds of processed marijuana to the East Coast, including New York and New Jersey.

These buds won't hit the streets. They were seized by sheriff's deputies after a probe of suspected pot dealers and cultivators.

Three were arrested in connection with a suspected illegal pot-growing and distribution operation.

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