Illegal marijuana dispensary busted in south Phoenix; 3 arrested

Law enforcement busted an illegal marijuana dispensary in south Phoenix and now three people are facing charges.
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 4:08 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Law enforcement ended an illegal marijuana dispensary in south Phoenix, and now three people are facing charges in connection to it. Agencies received information from the Arizona Department of Health Services about the suspected illegal shop called Korporate Smoke at 16th Street and Southern Avenue. “DHS did a little research into and confirmed it wasn’t a licensed dispensary,” said Maricopa County Sheriff’s Detective Matthew Shay. “They were purporting to be a license dispensary but weren’t.”

“For the longest I actually thought it was legit,” Hector Guzman, a customer said.

He said it seemed like other marijuana dispensaries he’d been to. “When you first walked in they asked you to provide your 21-year-old verification ID, then they asked to wand you down real quick with a metal detector, and then they asked you to look up at a camera,” Guzman said.

For several months, undercover officers with Phoenix Drug Enforcement Bureau would go through the front door, then into a small clothing store and then into a room with display cases that had illegal drugs, including magic mushrooms. The officers chose which drugs they wanted to buy, and workers would use two-way radios to talk to employees in the back room who brought the drugs out. Korporate Smoke had armed security, a waiting room and an ATM, MCSO said.

“That’s a lot of people, yeah,” Ruby Meza said. “Honestly, I’m not surprised,” she explained.

According to investigators, Alisa Simpson was the manager who established bank accounts, LLCs, ledgers and posted fake dispensary licenses on Instagram, so people thought they were buying THC products legally. “They were offering products that contain cannabis that very closely resembles candy products that would be offered through a normal a store. That’s not authorized in the state of Arizona,” said Shay. Simpson was arrested on Friday. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s Tactical Operations Unit also searched the shop on Friday, arresting James McCoy and Corey Cashman. Investigators say they were found inside a hidden “safe” room with drugs and money. All three suspects were booked into jail on charges of control of an illegal enterprise.

“I never knew because it was just clothes in the front,” Lequesha Allen said.

Alisa Simpson, left, James McCoy, middle and Corey Cashman, right.
Alisa Simpson, left, James McCoy, middle and Corey Cashman, right.(Arizona's Family)

Shay said the illegal operation had been going on for about a year. “With the prices of the illegal, black market marijuana cannabis you can get, from say California, and then import into metro Phoenix, it’s very enticing to operate an illegal dispensary op. You can make a lot of money, you don’t have to pay the taxes the dispensary has to. You’re not burdened by the all the regulations and testing and whatever else the regular dispensaries have to go through,” said Shay.

The agencies who participated in the operation were the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Drug Suppression Task Force, the RICO Asset Investigation and Disruption Section, HIDTA Enforcement Action Team and the Phoenix Drug Enforcement Bureau.