Pierce County prosecutors have accused the owner of a Tacoma medical marijuana dispensary of running an illegal network of pot-growing operations across two counties.
They allege in court documents that James Canyon Lucas, operator of Tacoma Cross, managed grow sites in Pierce and King counties and supervised the illegal distribution of the harvested marijuana.
Lucas, 31, has been summoned to court Nov. 12 for arraignment on charges of unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and money laundering.
Seven other people also are charged in the case, including Lucas’ business associate Mark Dewayne Nowels, 40. Nowels is charged with unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance and money laundering. He, too, is to be arraigned Nov. 12.
A team of law enforcement officers from across the South Sound region began investigating the men in March after receiving information that they were illegally growing marijuana, court records show.
In July, officers served seven search warrants at homes in Federal Way, Sumner, Bonney Lake, Fife and Lake Tapps. They seized marijuana plants, growing equipment, firearms, cash and other drugs, court records show.
They also found receipts from Tacoma Cross in a bagful of cash discovered at Nowels’ Lake Tapps home, the records state.
Nowels originally “claimed to be an authorized grower for various marijuana patients and claimed that he donated his marijuana to the Tacoma Cross dispensary,” court records show.
He later changed his account, allegedly telling investigators that Lucas recruited him into the illegal network when his real estate business was struggling. Nowels said he expanded his operation once he started making money, records state.
“M. Nowels claimed that he and J. Lucas would manage the power bills and the rent locations and make the tenders responsible for the marijuana,” deputy prosecutor James Curtis wrote in a declaration for probable cause. “J. Lucas was responsible for the distribution of the marijuana.”
Detectives examined the bank accounts of Lucas and Nowels as part of the investigation.
“Both M. Nowels and J. Lucas have made substantial banking deposits and accumulated homes and vehicles, which are disproportionate to their reported incomes,” court records state.
Nowels deposited more than $767,000 into his accounts between 2007 and 2010, the records show.
Efforts to reach the men were unsuccessful Tuesday.
A manager of Tacoma Cross, 1126 Commerce St., told The News Tribune last month that the dispensary serves about 1,200 patients.
In May, authorities raided a Tacoma medical marijuana dispensary, Club 420, and arrested two of its operators, alleging they sold marijuana to people unauthorized to buy it and illegally profited from sales.
Last month, the city ordered eight dispensaries in Tacoma to shut down. It later rescinded the cease-and-desist order to allow the Legislature to clarify the state’s medical-marijuana law.
Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/crime