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Murder in the Marijuana Industry - the San Diego Kidnapping Plot

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  • Murder in the Marijuana Industry - the San Diego Kidnapping Plot

    You would think that a drug like marijuana would make for a mellower atmosphere. Yet in every new industry, there is always a lunatic fringe, and cannabis is no exception. Herein, one of the more bizarre incidents involving violence in the weed industry...

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    The San Diego Cannabis Kidnapping Plot

    This is a story that's been kicking around since 2018, but is still seeing developments. In November of 2018, Salam Razuki, Sylvia Gonzales and Elizabeth Juarez were arrested and charged with a murder and kidnapping plot against a business associate, identified only as "N.M." The whole affair was allegedly triggered by a business dispute over $40 million in real estate property which was supposed to be turned into a dispensary business chain. The story is still generating developments today; despite the murder plot, the business partnership is legally obligated to continue, according to a recent ruling by a state appellate court.

    As the story goes, Razuki, Gonzales, and Juarez attempted to hire a hitman to take out their business partner "N.M." The victim, had the deal gone through, would have been taken out of the country to Mexico and executed, possibly inspired by an urge to make it appear to be the action of Mexican organized crime. The hitman, whom the trio proposed to hire for the surprisingly modest sum of $2000, was actually an FBI informant.

    The details of this story could play as a pretty off-the-wall Elmore Leonard novel. Allegedly the conspiracy came together one night over a sushi dinner - the California touch! Actual quotes from the hatching of this plot include lines like "You need to get rid of this a--hole, he’s costing me too much money," "take him to Mexico and have him whacked," and "put the turkey up to roast before Thanksgiving."

    Salam Razuki is known as a prominent San Diego property owner and marijuana investor. Sylvia Gonzales and Elizabeth Juarez were his associates. Earlier in 2018, according to the Voice of San Diego, Razuki had sued his business partner, Ninus Malan, for control of several legal marijuana businesses in San Diego, including the Balboa Ave Coop (AKA Treehouse Balboa) and Goldn Bloom (formerly known as Urbn Leaf.). Malan had filed a restraining order in August of 2018, alleging that Razuki and his associates had been stealing his mail and had hired gang members to intimidate him.

    While the story is an obvious fluke, southern California marijuana industry advocates have expressed worry that the case could worsen to reputation of the cannabis business in southern Cali. But... eh, that train seems to have left the station by now anyway.
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