On Jan. 5, narcotics detectives with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department concluded an investigation into suspected illegal marijuana cultivators and nationwide marijuana traffickers within the city of Goleta.
Detectives were originally alerted to the suspects when one of the suspects, Kenneth Koster, 46, was arrested by the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office in Oklahoma. Koster was found to be transporting more than 33 pounds of processed marijuana with a street value in Oklahoma of $165,000. Koster’s destination for the marijuana was believed to be Seminole County, Fla.
A subsequent search warrant was authored for Koster’s residence, and Santa Barbara County detectives found more than 130 active marijuana plants in a sophisticated indoor marijuana garden on the El Camino Ratel property.
Detectives also recovered more than 10 pounds of processed marijuana, scales, packaging materials and pay/owe sheets. About $27,000 in cash and $10,000 in equipment was seized pursuant to state asset forfeiture laws.
Also arrested at the residence was Santa Barbara/Humboldt County resident George Foxx, 37, for a local Santa Barbara County warrant.
A further joint operation with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office/City County Investigative Bureau continued in which numerous suspects were observed brokering and selling marijuana obtained through “medicinal marijuana” growers in Santa Barbara and Humboldt counties.
The main California contact and source of marijuana was identified as Foxx. He and other growers would “pool” their harvests and sell it to the suspects, who would smuggle it to Florida for the purposes of sales.
Foxx is wanted on a $500,000 Florida RICO warrant for felony marijuana smuggling and money laundering. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked call a local law enforcement agency.
Koster bailed out of the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office and returned to California.
On Thursday, a $500,000 warrant out of Seminole County Florida was issued for Koster’s arrest for felony smuggling of marijuana. Santa Barbara County narcotics detectives apprehended Koster in the 1900 block of Old San Marcos Road. He was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail awaiting extradition to Seminole County, Fla.
Seminole County authorities have arrested 31 suspects and seized 600 pounds of high-grade marijuana, ½-kilo of cocaine, 27 vehicles and about $700,000.
— Drew Sugars is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.