Four men have been charged in connection with illegal marijuana sales, resulting in the recovery of $500,000 worth of cannabis products.
Gurnee police arrested the four men after they received tip-offs from the Crime Stoppers hotline and several other sources indicating the men were involved in suspicious drug sales.
The reports were trailed back to a CBD store on the 400 block of Route 21, where employees were armed with weapons and possessed a store robbery plot.
David Vega, 22, from Zion, and Waukegan residents Adrian Gonzalez, 24; Juan M. Gonzalez, 39; and Victor M. Tapia, 34, were all charged with delivering and possessing cannabis.
Police discovered the men were selling unauthorized marijuana and other THC products in a private room in the store, while the main building sold the usual CBD products and accessories.
The store was not a licensed pot dispensary, and officers recovered more than 200 pounds of pot products and $25,000 in cash.
If the men are convicted, they face a charge for felony possession and delivery of cannabis substance leading to a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 to 30 years in prison.
The news comes after the FDA warned 15 companies over illegal CBD sales.
Emergency services from the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System assisted Gurnee with its search warrant, which was obtained based on intelligence gathered and an abundance of caution, police said.
In a press release, Gurnee Police Department Chief Brian Smith said: “The alarming accusations about the inner workings of the business led to a quick response from our investigators.
“The VOP team carefully investigated this case and stopped a potential threat of violence and what could have been a dangerous situation. We are grateful for the support given to us by NIPAS to ensure the operation went smoothly.”
Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik added she was pleased with the response taken.
She said: “I am proud of the swift and decisive action by the Gurnee Police Department to shut down this brazen criminal operation.”
Back in November 2019, Gurnee approved an ordinance prohibiting the recreational sale of cannabis in the village. Over a dozen others in Lake County approved similar ordinances opting out of the sale of pot.
Similar to Iowa, residents have to own a state-issued medical registration card to use cannabis, although law enforcement in the corn state is a little more relaxed on the matter.
Despite Governor Pritzker signing a bill to legalize the recreational use of cannabis from January 1, 2020, the state has allowed municipalities to decide whether to allow cannabis businesses to set up in their communities.
It also allowed these communities to restrict the authority of adult-use recreational dispensaries, and the option to authorize on-site consumption sites such as cannabis cafes and smoke lounges.
It may have been a smart move for the village to make as more states find trouble with the new laws – some Utah employees have lost their jobs over CBD use, despite it being legal.
The employees were fired after drug tests showed signs of THC in their systems, leading to questions on how well CBD products are actually regulated.
Experts believe that despite the legal limit of 0.3% THC, many stores may be selling products that contain more, without informing the buyer.
Illinois was the 11th state to legalize marijuana, providing the licensure of adult-use cannabis businesses.
Those aged 21 and over can now purchase cannabis products for home use, but cannot take pot products to public places, schools, or child care facilities.