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Operators of marijuana shops arrested in Inland Empire

June 14, 2012 |  1:28 pm

Marijuana plant
The operators of a chain of marijuana shops in the Inland Empire and workers associated with a warehouse where pot was cultivated for the stores were arrested Thursday morning on federal drug trafficking charges.

Authorities said the case involves three people who owned and operated the G3 Holistic stores and three others allegedly involved in a large grow operation in Ontario. The G3 shops are in Upland, Colton and Moreno Valley.

Arrested were Aaron Sandusky, 41, of Rancho Cucamonga, an owner of G3; John Leslie Nuckolls II, 31, of Rialto, another owner; and Keith Alan Sandusky, 44, of Rancho Cucamonga, who supervised the chain’s day-to-day operations.

Also facing prosecution are three workers from the Ontario warehouse: Paul Neumann Brownbridge, 29, of Upland, Richard Irwin Kirchnavy, 45, of Rancho Cucamonga, and Brandon Anton Gustafson, 30, of Yucaipa.

An indictment issued last week by a federal grand jury charged all six people with conspiracy to manufacture and possess marijuana with the intent to distribute and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Each count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

In addition, each defendant faces at least one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors said the arrests come after the owners of the stores received written warnings about eight months ago that G3’s marijuana business was operating in violation of federal law.

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-- Dan Weikel

Photo: A marijuana plant. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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