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Local News

Detectives Dismantle Large-Scale Marijuana Trafficking Operation

Sheriff's Department arrests nine suspects and seizes large quantities of drugs as part of a year-long investigation

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Unit has dismantled a large-scale marijuana trafficking operation and arrested nine suspects as part of a year-long investigation.

Erik Bjorklund
Erik Bjorklund

Detectives believe the primary suspect, 55-year-old Erik Bjorklund of Santa Barbara, was growing marijuana at his residence in the 2900 block of San Marcos Pass Road, according to Sheriff’s Department spokesman Drew Sugars. Bjorklund also had property in the Tepusquet Road area of Santa Maria, where he was reportedly growing marijuana with another suspect, 33-year-old Kelsey O’Reilly of Santa Barbara.

Sugars said investigators determined that Bjorklund was selling mass amounts of marijuana throughout Southern California for profit under the auspices of Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420.

Jeffrey Vines, 62, of Ojai, another business partner of Bjorklund, is accused of bottling large quantities of a liquid mixture with alcohol and cannabis for Bjorklund, and to be a high-risk sex offender on active parole with GPS monitoring. Investigators recovered a large amount of suspected child pornography at Vines’ residence.

Search warrants were served at seven locations in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, where detectives seized more than 900 active marijuana plants (indoor and outdoor; the outdoors could yield more than 4 pounds per plant), more than 300 pounds of processed/bagged marijuana for sales, more than 50 pounds of hash, 28 five-pound containers of hash oil, full hash/hash oil conversion lab (with an estimated street value of several million dollars, $125,000 in cash, a 2010 Porsche Panorama, and nine motorcycles seized pursuant to state asset forfeiture laws.

Sugars said that several pounds of processed marijuana were found in a child’s bedroom at Bjorklund’s residence.

Bjorklund was arrested and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on a $2 million Ramey warrant for 35 counts of money laundering, in addition to charges of transportation of marijuana for sales, cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sales, child endangerment and for having a hash conversion lab.

Vines was arrested on charges of felony parole violation, cultivation of marijuana, conspiracy and possession of child pornography.

O’Reilly was arrested at his residence in Santa Barbara and booked on charges of selling marijuana, cultivating marijuana, money laundering and conspiracy.

Other suspects arrested and booked into the jail were:

» Rachel Ziemer, 24, of Santa Barbara, arrested at her residence on charges of sales and transportation of marijuana, and possession of marijuana for sales

» Christopher Hawkins, 59, of Santa Barbara, arrested at the San Marcos property on charges for marijuana sales, cultivating marijuana and conspiracy

» David Ziemer, 53, of Santa Barbara, arrested at his residence on charges of marijuana sales, cultivating marijuana and conspiracy

» Kevin Howe, 40, of Santa Maria, arrested at the Tepusquet grow on charges of cultivating marijuana and conspiracy

» Alina Stillwell, 24, of Santa Maria, arrested at the Tepusquet grow on charges of cultivating marijuana and conspiracy

» Ryan Brown, 27, of Santa Maria, arrested at the Tepusquet grow on charges of cultivating marijuana and conspiracy.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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