Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Raided, Local Man Arrested

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    A San Diego man, believed to be operating three medical marijuana dispensaries, was arrested after a year-long investigation by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

    Detectives raided a dispensary in Hillcrest Thursday morning and seized hundreds of edible marijuana items, processed pot and thousands of dollars in cash.

    Investigators said they were acting on tips and complaints of drug trafficking and money laundering at the Helping Hands Wellness Center on the 3000 block of Fifth Street.

    San Diego County narcotics detectives, working with Santa Barbara deputies, also raided the home of James Harder on Lake Decatur Avenue. Harder, 30, is suspected of running the Helping Hands Wellness Center in San Diego as well as two other dispensaries near Santa Barbara. He has been arrested on charges of felony drug trafficking and felony money laundering.

    Harder is being held on $2 million bail and awaiting transfer to Santa Barbara County Jail.

    Detectives also arrested Craig Corneal and Laura Bertucci, both of Goleta and both accused of similar charges.