A four-year investigation into an alleged organized crime ring based in the Los Angeles area that distributed marijuana across the country led to three arrests early Tuesday.
The men, all from LA, were taken into custody at 4 a.m., when authorities were also serving 11 search warrants at multiple pot dispensaries in the region.
The suspects are among 20 overall who are wanted for a slate of crimes that ranges from attempted murder to arson. All the other suspects are in custody, Beverly Hills police Lt. Lincoln Hoshinosaid.
"This organization was involved in the operation of multiple retail marijuana dispensaries generating massive profits, repeatedly showing their willingness to use violence and intimidation to expand their operations and dissuade competition.," Hoshino said in a press release announcing the arrests.
Gang members were being hired to be "enforcers" to extort and influence other marijuana dispensaries, Hoshino told NBC4. The ring tried to kill the owners of another location, as well as the shop's landlord, he said.
An investigation into arson, attempted murder and home invastion prompted the broader case, Hoshino told NBC4. Millions of dollars of cash have been seized, Hoshino said.
Twenty-six crimes have been documented during the case, which included the Beverly Hills Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Santa Monica Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Secret Service.
The three arrested suspects, charged with a total of 46 felony counts, are: Andrew Kramer, 38; Rene Johnson, 50; and Jonathan Livingston, 43.
Hoshino said Kramer was the "primary suspect" in the case and is the owner of four marijuana dispensaries: Zen dispensary in the 8400 block Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood; Alternative Herbal Health Services (AHHS) in the 7800 block Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood; La Brea Compassionate Caregivers, in the 700 block North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles; Marina Caregivers in the 700 block of Washington Boulevard, Marina del Rey.