Cannabis candy seized as Ariz. authorities bust drug syndicate

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by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Jared Dillingham

Posted on September 17, 2012 at 5:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 18 at 4:06 PM

PHOENIX -- Investigators said they have busted a drug-trafficking organization/criminal syndicate that was selling marijuana and cannabis-based products, including candy and treats, throughout Arizona.

Sold under the name "Zonka," the group made marijuana-laced chocolate bars, lollipops, hard candies and cake pops. They also advertised "Zonka" shirts and other paraphernalia on their website and Facebook pages.

Authorities arrested Christopher Lee Martin, 37, and Andrea Lyn Martin, 33, both of Prescott, along with Todd James, 40, and Christopher Goodrich, 39, both of Phoenix. Additional arrests are expected.

Investigators did not say if any in the group carries a medical marijuana card, or thought what they were doing was legal. Regardless, Yavapai County sheriff's officials said it is illegal for them to sell marijuana in Arizona.

"The medical marijuana card holder can only offer or provide marijuana to another card holder if nothing of value is transferred," said Dwight D'Evelyn of the YCSO.

More than 100 law enforcement personnel were utilized to conduct the operation.

In Phoenix, search warrants were served at Banquets and More, 1732 W. Bell Road; the  James home in the 6800 block of South 15th Place; Joint ReLeaf Compassion Club, 3143 E. Roosevelt St.; AZ CPC, 1833 E. Indian School Road; and Green Cross of Phoenix, 1000 E. Indian School Road.

Search warrants were served at Green Cross of Prescott and Hippie Village Emporium in Prescott.

Detectives are still cataloging evidence but estimate that more than 20 pounds of marijuana, hundreds of marijuana products, numerous firearms, several vehicles and about $70,000 in cash were recovered in the operation, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives traced the contraband from a kitchen in Phoenix and monitored distribution throughout Yavapai and Maricopa counties and beyond.

Christopher Martin was identified as the "chef" who developed the various food products all containing THC/hashish. He was booked on charges including possess-sell-manufacture of narcotic drug, leading an organized crime operation, possession of marijuana and narcotic drug for sale, and prohibited possessor. He remains in custody on a $270,000 bond.

Andrea Martin was booked for possession of marijuana and narcotic drug for sale. She has been released on her own recognizance.

James was booked on charges including leading an organized crime operation and possession of marijuana and narcotic drug for sale. He remains in custody on a $250,000 bond.

Goodrich was booked on a charge of leading an organized crime operation and two counts of possession of narcotics for sale. He is still in custody with a $100,000 bond.

Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT), the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, Prescott Valley Police Department, Prescott Police Department, Chino Valley Police Department, Yavapai County Attorney's Office, Maricopa County Attorney's Office, and the Phoenix Police Department were involved in the investigation.  

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