PHOENIX – Maricopa County sheriff's detectives arrested 39 suspected drug dealers, including 11 working in "compassion clubs" that illegally sell marijuana.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said "Operation Lucky Charm" began March 3 and also targeted street-level drug dealers selling in skate parks, high-crime neighborhoods and known drug-trafficking areas.
Arpaio said detectives seized drugs, weapons and cash following three separate but related investigations.
Detectives served five search warrants Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation into the illegal medical marijuana dispensary known as The Care Station located near Thomas Road and 24th Street in Phoenix.
On Thursday afternoon, investigators were still at three homes described as large grow houses. Two of them were in Laveen and one was located in Phoenix.
On March 4, detectives determined that The Kind Collective located near Greenway Road and 35th Avenue in Phoenix was illegally operating as a medical marijuana dispensary, according to Arpaio.
Detectives also investigated a Phoenix compassion club called The Underground near Indian School Road and 16th Street. They served a search warrant on the business and the primary suspect's residence in Chandler on March 3.
Arpaio said detectives have seized 1,000 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of more than $700,000, nearly 30 pounds of hydroponic (high-grade) marijuana valued at $185,000, automatic handguns, a high-powered rifle, nearly $230,000 in cash, eight vehicles and a house.
Arpaio said detectives also seized an ATM that was concealing marijuana as well as baked goods containing marijuana.
All suspects have been booked into Fourth Avenue Jail on various felony drug and money-laundering charges. No names have been released.
Compassion clubs are deemed illegal as they have not registered and are not licensed with the state department of health.
Arpaio said the clubs have sprung up in the county as a result of the passage of Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act in 2010.