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Chula Vista Police bust illegal pot shop packed with products marketed to kids

Posted at 11:32 AM, May 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 20:32:47-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — South Bay police busted an illegal pot dispensary, Cannavista, Friday morning, shutting down the main thoroughfare during the morning commute in the process.

Employees in nearby businesses shocked when SWAT rolled in around 8:30 a.m., shutting down Third Avenue near H Street.

Vasquez said his employees saw SWAT use battering rams to break down locked doors in the business. "What appeared to be the SWAT team here, they had you know semi-automatic weapons, I mean they looked like they were about to go to war," Vasquez said.

Inside Cannavista police saw all kinds of cannabis products, from marijuana infused popcorn to gummy bears.

Police say many of the products are marketed to kids — something extremely disturbing to neighbors knowing St. Rose of Lima School and church are nearby. Police said in a press release the business produced several complaints from the community.

Local business owners called the business a nuisance, saying there was always trash around and the lingering scent of marijuana.

"The risks of that kind of environment is an unknown it’s like I feel relieved to know that we don’t have to worry about that unknown now," Bernardo Vasquez, a local business owner, said.

It was also concerning to neighbors who said the business might have an armed guard. For that reason CVPD Capt. Phil Collum said SWAT is the only group capable of conducting a raid on the business.

"No cannabis locations in the City of Chula Vista today are legal, every single one is illegal," Collum said. CVPD is constantly battling the illegal shops, 10News reported in February, "police believe there's roughly a dozen or more operating illegally in the city."

"Illegal cannabis businesses can be the source of significant building and code violations that put the public at risk," Collum said.

Police want to send the message that they will find any illegal business in the city and shut it down.

Several employees of the business were detained.

The City of Chula Vista will allow eight legal dispensary store fronts, and their doors will open by the end of the year, according to Public Information Officer Anne Steinberger.