A cannabis distributor in Central California was violently robbed at gunpoint in June, and the six surviving suspects are now facing federal charges.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced in an indictment that each suspect will face two counts: robbery affecting interstate commerce and conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce. But that’s not all: They also face charges from local authorities, including armed robbery, conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon, felony battery with great bodily injury, torture, false imprisonment, and kidnapping.
While it’s not currently known to the public why this distributor was targeted, it seems clearly planned. Four of the defendants are from Illinois, one from Arizona, and one from San Diego; hence the interstate conspiracy charges.
Together with one other suspect, they allegedly loaded into two vehicles and headed to a cannabis distributor facility outside of Murphys, a small village in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is a small, affluent community popular with tourists for its wine-tasting rooms and vineyards. Why this distributor and community were chosen for the robbery remains unclear, but it was not near any of the suspect’s home cities.
Once the suspects arrived onsite, they allegedly bound and blindfolded six victims. These people at the distribution facility were beaten; some with a baseball bat and at least one was tortured with a stun gun. One victim had to be taken to a hospital out of the area to treat their severe injuries.
Cash and Processed Cannabis Were Stolen
After the victims were brutalized, the suspects left with $30,000 in cash and over 100 pounds of processed cannabis. The victims were able to notify police, and multiple law enforcement agencies were on the lookout for the getaway vehicles. A deputy in Valley Springs, about a 30-minute drive from Murphys, spotted one and then lead a pursuit when they refused to pull over.
The high-speed chase ended when a suspect “exited the vehicle” while at full speed and was soon pronounced dead at the scene. Law enforcement wasn’t clear if this person was pushed or if they jumped. However the person exited the vehicle, they seemed to have been the driver, because the car immediately crashed into some trees. Two of the passengers ran on foot but were captured. Two others were arrested in the second vehicle, and an additional two suspects were arrested after months of investigation.
Financial Recovery from Worst-Case Scenarios
While cannabis is an exciting and growing industry, the cash-dominant nature of cannabis and the high-value product can unfortunately make it a target for theft and robbery. To begin recovering your business from a devastating experience like this, talk to your commercial property insurance agent. Our policies cover multiple kinds of damage, including damage and loss from theft. Even if items are recovered like they were in this scenario, the facility and your equipment have likely been damaged, and the recovered cannabis may have been tampered with or contaminated. If you’re renting, talk to your property owner about their insurance coverage as well.
Reaching out to your agent to discuss your workers’ compensation insurance will also be important if your employees were injured during the robbery, as they unfortunately were in the Murphys robbery.