News Release
December 13, 2006

Two Arrests at Hayward Marijuana Distribution Center

Law Enforcement Arrests the Owner and the Manager of Local Patients Cooperative

Seizes Inert Grenades, Sophisticated Indoor Marijuana Grows, Hundreds of Marijuana Plants, Marijuana Baked Goods, High Value Vehicles and U.S Currency

HAYWARD, Calif. - Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Special Agent in Charge Roger L. Wirth and United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan, announced that DEA and IRS Special Agents arrested the owner and manager of the Local Patients Cooperative in Hayward today. Shon Matthew SQUIER, 34, and Valerie Lynn HERSCHEL, 23, both of Hayward, California, were arrested on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and the distribution of marijuana. In addition to the arrests, special agents executed five federal search warrants, including the Local Patients Cooperative facility located on Foothill Blvd., two associated residences in Hayward, and two cars.

As a result of today's search, law enforcement seized indoor marijuana grows, hundreds of marijuana plants, marijuana laced cookies, brownies, popcorn, pies, candy, two inert grenades, U.S. Currency and several high value vehicles to include Mercedes, Hummer, Cadillac Escalade, Volvo, Dodge Truck, Harley Davidson and Ducati Motorcycles.

"We will continue to enforce federal drug laws and seize the profits that go hand in hand with these illicit sales," stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña.

According to the criminal complaint, the Hayward Local Patents Cooperative attempts to disguise the breadth of its criminal activity by claiming that it caters exclusively to persons suffering from medical illnesses, when in fact persons without any medical condition can purchase marijuana at the retail establishment. During a recent inspection by Hayward Police Department, officers saw over 200 pounds of marijuana at the location as well as numerous marijuana plants.

The DEA and IRS began this investigation approximately one year ago. Throughout the investigation agents learned that SQUIER was allegedly the owner of the marijuana distribution center, while HERSCHEL allegedly acted as a manager. Furthermore, agents received information that Local Patients Cooperative allegedly operated a sophisticated indoor marijuana grow with multiple grow rooms and had hundreds of pounds of processed marijuana on hand. The facility also had a variety of marijuana for sale and also offered miscellaneous items such as edibles, hash, kief, cookies, brownies and oils. Court documents un-sealed today revealed that on multiple occasions, law enforcement observed between 20-30 males, approximately 20-40 years of age, enter the distribution center and depart, individually, with a small white bags displaying the word "Prescription". The complaint also alleges that the men entered the establishment unassisted and appeared to be healthy. Furthermore, agents had observed individuals, believed to be uniformed security personnel, protecting the perimeter and entrance of the building.

Both SQUIER and HERSCHEL are charged with the following violations: Title 21 United States Code ("U.S.C."), Section 846-Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana, Section 841(a)(1)-Distribution of Marijuana and Section 856(a)(1)- Maintaining a drug-involved premises. The maximum statutory penalty for Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and the Distribution of Marijuana charges are a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years, a $1,000,000 fine, a 3 year term of supervised release and a $100 special assessment. The maximum statutory penalty for Maintaining a Drug Involved Premises is a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years, a $500,000 dollar fine, a 3 year term of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.

SQUIER and HERSCHEL will make their initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Oakland on December 13, 2006, at 10 a.m. before Magistrate Judge Wayne D. Brazil.

Today's enforcement operation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of the Hayward Police Department, South Alameda County Narcotics Enforcement Team ("SACNET") and the Livermore Police Department.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shashi Kewalramani with the assistance of Legal Assistant Cynthia Daniel. The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.