Mail-order pot ring busted in Pacific Beach

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Three Pacific Beach men were in custody Friday on suspicion of using the U.S. Postal Service to ship large quantities of marijuana to various states and receiving packages containing tens of thousands of dollars in cash in return, Chula Vista police said.

Kyle Gillen, 25, Chris Gillen, 26, and Matthew Schneider, 28, were taken into custody at their homes Wednesday on suspicion of money laundering and marijuana sales, according to CVPD Lt. Lon Turner. Their arrests climaxed a yearlong investigation by the U.S. Postal Service and the Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance’s Team ONE, which includes Chula Vista police.

“The investigation centered on several San Diego residents who used mail service to ship multi-pound quantities of marijuana to New Jersey, Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts,” Turner said in a statement. “The group also used the mail to receive shipments of bulk currency to fund ongoing operations.”

Turner estimated that the group shipped 15 to 20 pounds of marijuana per week and received $20,000 to $30,000 per week. It was not immediately clear how long the alleged crimes went on before the yearlong investigation began.

Also on Wednesday, authorities served search warrants on a warehouse at 3801 Gaines St. in San Diego and the men’s residences in the 4900 block of La Jolla Boulevard in Pacific Beach. A shotgun, a handgun, an SKS rifle, a bullet- resistant vest, $10,000 in cash and $500,000 in assets, including precious metals and financial accounts, were seized from the residences, and about 300 marijuana plants were seized from the warehouse, Turner said.

The Gillens and Schneider could be arraigned as early as this afternoon, according to jail records.

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