A San Diego man involved in a multi-state marijuana ring that distributed pot via the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge Wednesday stemming from the case.
Chris Gillen, 25, of Pacific Beach, was sentenced to three years of probation for a misdemeanor money laundering charge tied to a multi-state marijuana business operating out of the well-known San Diego beach community.
The pot business – which also involved Gillen’s brother, Kyle Gillen, as well as Matthew Schneider and two other men – was busted by officials in May after a 10-month investigation spearheaded by the USPS.
In July 2012, investigators began monitoring packages of money being delivered between the suspects and correspondents on the East Coast. Officials became suspicious because the men were receiving a lot of money in the mail.
Officials soon discovered the Gillen brothers and Schneider were making up to $30,000 per week by shipping marijuana to customers in cities across the U.S. from their homes in Pacific Beach.
The three men were arrested in late May at their next-door homes on La Jolla Boulevard.
Investigators searched the homes as well as a warehouse on Gaines Street in the Midway District, which officials had linked the suspects to through surveillance.
There, officials discovered a sophisticated marijuana grow containing more than 400 pot plants in different stages and advanced growing equipment. Officers also seized $500,000 in assets including bank accounts, cash, cars, silver bars and firearms from the suspects.
According to prosecutors, the suspects were highly-active “drug kingpins” who mailed 15 to 20 pounds of pot to customers each week in several states including Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey – the Gillen brothers’ home state.
The suspects would accept cash payments for the weed via mail or wire, and used several different mailboxes to conduct their business.
Prosecutors said investigators tracked more than 150 pounds of pot allegedly shipped by the defendants to the East Coast, where a pound of pot sells for up to $6,000.
Kyle Gillen, Schneider and two other suspects involved in the multi-state pot ring have all pleaded guilty to money laundering and drug charges, and are slated for sentencing in January. Those defendants could face prison time.
Prosecutors said Gillen received a lesser sentence because investigators believe he wasn’t as heavily involved in the pot ring as the other suspects.