Police Arrest ‘Church Volunteer’ in Pot Shop Raid


A man who described himself as a volunteer at a church where marijuana was the sacrament was arrested by police for operating an illegal dispensary, the first such arrest since Laguna Beach outlawed operations by medicinal and recreational marijuana retailers.

Police seized 18 pounds of marijuana from Devine Church of Gardens in the 900 block of Glenneyre Street about 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, Sgt. Jim Cota said. Other “volunteers” were present, but no customers. Cota could not say how long the storefront-church had been in operation.

The dispensary offered “a free gram with an eighth donation” to new members on its page on Weedmaps, a guide to dispensaries. The church became a Weedmap member Jan. 4, the page says.

“Made a visit to the church today mostly out of curiosity. I was happily surprised to find some top-notch bud and just about everything else you may want. The young man working (Luke) was very friendly and a pleasure to meet. All in all a good experience,” Mcmertle wrote in a five-star review last week.

A citizen alerted police about the possible dispensary after seeing people leaving from the second-level of a building with white bags and detecting the smell of burning marijuana, the police log said.

Lucas Seth Dichiara, 31, of Irvine, was taken into custody for suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and for violating Laguna’s municipal code. It is the first arrest under the regulation, Cota said.

Voters in 2016 rejected a measure to repeal the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and city authorities last April extended the ban to recreational sales, which became legalized statewide this month.


Sunday, Jan. 14

Traffic stop. Cleo St. 1:52 a.m. Gregory Dashawa Edison, 20, of Los Angeles, was arrested for an outstanding warrant. The 39-year-old driver, also of Los Angeles, was cited for being unlicensed.

Traffic stop. N. Coast Highway. 11:28 p.m. A 22-year-old Elsinore man was cited for DUI.

Saturday, Jan. 13

Traffic stop. Diamond St. 12:33 a.m. Local police initiated a pursuit of a vehicle that accelerated to speeds of 80 mph along Laguna Canyon Road and state Route 73 before ceding the chase to other agencies along the 405 and 710 freeways.

Traffic stop. Montage and Coast Hwy. 2:25 a.m. A 48-year-old Boston man was cited for DUI.

Traffic stop. Second St. 7:37 p.m. A 57-year-old Laguna Hills woman was cited for DUI.

Friday, Jan. 12

Traffic stop. Coast Hwy. 12:59 a.m. A Texas woman, 37, was cited for DUI.

Traffic stop. Ocean Ave. 1:22 p.m. A 44-year-old Huntington Beach man was arrested for DUI.

Traffic stop. Montage. 1:56 a.m. A 21-year-old Laguna Niguel man was cited for DUI.

Traffic stop. 10:13 p.m. Thalia Street. A Billings, Mont., resident, 52, was cited for DUI.

Thursday, Jan. 11

Theft. 31600 block of Mar Vista Lane. 10:46 a.m. Tools and a jackets were taken from an unlocked car three days earlier.

Grand theft. PD. 2:11 p.m. The owner of a vehicle that may have been unlocked reported a break-in and the loss of credit cards and a $8,400 loss.

Fraud. 1100 block of Glenneyre St. 2:53 p.m. Three packages sold for $328 as discounts on dental x-rays turned out to be a scam.

Grand theft. 400 Hilledge Dr. 4:46 p.m. Two demolition hammers worth $4,000 were taken from a job site.

Traffic collision. 21000 block of Laguna Canyon Rd. No one was injured in a two-vehicle pile-up, which nonetheless led to the arrest of a 39-year-old Costa Mesa man for DUI.

Wednesday, Jan. 10

Fraud. 200 block of Forest Ave. 1 p.m. Police are unable to locate a suspect that provided a merchant a fake $100 bill.

Patrol check. 200 block of Coast Hwy. 2:19 p.m. Ricardo Angel Vasquez, 37, of Alhambra, was arrested following the seizure of a pound of marijuana.

Tuesday, Jan. 9

Theft. 1800 block of S. Coast Hwy. 8:48 a.m. A statue worth $300 was taken two nights earlier.

Trespassing. 31700 block of Coast Hwy. 1:28 p.m. A report about three transients smoking and panhandling customers led to the arrest of Joshua Poeske, 29, of Laguna Niguel, for a no-bail warrant.

License plate reader. 4:01 p.m. Scott Welby Anderson, 47, of Laguna Hills, was arrested for suspicion of stealing a vehicle in Huntington Beach on Jan. 4.



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