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New lawsuit claims cash illegally seized from licensed dispensaries by San Bernardino sheriff and FBI

LOS ANGELES, CA. – A new lawsuit has been filed claiming that the FBI and the San Bernardino sheriff’s department illegally seized several million dollars that was being transported from dispensaries to financial institutions. The money was taken in a series of traffic stops last year in what is being described as a string of “highway robberies,” according to CNN.

The lawsuit was filed by lawyers for Empyreal, which transports money for clients including those in the cannabis business and is based in Pennsylvania. The company claims that the law enforcement agencies intentionally pulled over it’s trucks with the intent to illegally seize the money. Starting in May 2021, Empyreal vehicles were stopped five times between California and Kansas. During two of those incidents, local law enforcement seized more than two million dollars in cash, which was later turned over to the FBI.

A spokesperson for Empyreal issued this statement: “Empyreal and its clients operate in full compliance with applicable state cannabis laws and all applicable federal and state money laundering compliance requirements.” The FBI has so far refused to comment, and it is not yet clear what grounds federal agents had to seize the money.

Further complicating the issue of whether the stops were legal is the fact that San Bernardino deputies covered up the security cameras during one stop in November of 2021. The deputies seized more than $700,000 in cash, the vehicles themselves, and valuable equipment within. As a part of the lawsuit, Empyreal is seeking a restraining order to allow the company to resume operations without law enforcement interference.

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus claimed in a tweet that “Over 80% of marijuana at dispensaries was grown illegally,” and that “illegal cultivation sites have created quality-of-life issues for many of our county’s residents.” Dicus also supported the actions of the San Bernardino deputies, saying, “I am confident when these claims make it to court, they will collide with the facts.”

 

We will continue to monitor this story for updates.

 

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