SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Three Pacific Beach men accused of using the U.S. Postal Service to ship large quantities of marijuana to the East Coast and receiving packages containing tens of thousands of dollars in cash in return pleaded not guilty Friday to money laundering and drug charges.
Kyle Gillen, 25, Chris Gillen, 26, and Matthew Schneider, 28, were taken into custody at their homes Wednesday. 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.
Deputy District Attorney Stacey McReynolds said that last July, the U.S. Postal Service started intercepting money packages coming back to San Diego from the East Coast.
The investigation uncovered a marijuana grow from which the defendants, among others, were sending marijuana to the East Coast with money sent back to San Diego, according to McReynolds.
About 150 pounds of the marijuana were sent in all, McReynolds said.
More than 400 marijuana plants were discovered this week at a warehouse in San Diego, the prosecutor said.
She said a pound of marijuana sells for about $6,000 on the East Coast, compared with $1,500 to $2,000 in San Diego.
McReynolds said search warrants were served at the men's residences in the 4900 block of La Jolla Boulevard in Pacific Beach. She said a shotgun, a handgun, an SKS rifle, a bullet-resistant vest, and $500,000 in assets, including wire transfers and financial accounts, were seized from the residences.
Kyle Gillen and Schneider face a maximum of more than 10 years in prison if convicted, Chris Gillen a little less because he was less involved in the operation, McReynolds said.
Judge Lorna Alksne ordered each of the defendants held on $150,000 bail. A readiness conference was set for June 11 and a preliminary hearing for June 13.
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