The details of a multi-state weed ring run out of a popular Detroit donut shop emerged today after federal prosecutors indicted the shop owner and two others on drug conspiracy, money laundering and a long list of other charges. For more than two years, the Holy Moly Donut Shop on Eight Mile operated as a hub for moving hundreds of pounds of cannabis and laundering millions in proceeds from drug sales. But the donut shop didn’t act alone. A sham medical cannabis dispensary and an ATM-filling business also helped run the weed ring.
If the stereotype about police loving donuts is true, making the front for your multi-state weed ring a donut shop that’s right next door to a bogus cannabis dispensary that’s also involved is a bold choice. But it’s one that Holy Moly Donut Shop owner Victor Attisha made back in 2016. Michigan had just begun to set up licensing and regulatory requirements for medical cannabis “provisioning centers,” and Attisha and two others hatched a scheme to traffic illegal marijuana and launder the proceeds through a fake dispensary set up to look like it was playing by all the rules, The Detroit News reports. That dispensary, Unified Collective, opened shop right next door to Holy Moly.
According to court records and suspect interviews, the U.S. DEA seized over $700,000 from the three men alleged to have operated the weed ring. The documents indicate that the trio purchased more than $1 million in cannabis products from California suppliers and other states. They then sold those products throughout the Detroit metro area, federal prosecutors say.
There’s a twenty-page rap sheet indicting Victor Attisha and his two accomplices, Junior Asmar and Hames Shammas. And it lays out the scale and complexity of the weed ring’s operation. A network of commercial and residential locations helped grow cannabis. They also received shipments of marijuana from other locations throughout the U.S.
Holy Moly Donut Shop and Unified Collective, on the other hand, handled the financial end of the operation. The two businesses concealed the weed proceeds and laundered it to hide the source of the income. And that’s where the ATM company came in. Junior Asmar, an employee of A&S ATM, would fill different ATM machines with cash from illegal marijuana sales. According to prosecutors, the ATM company deposited nearly $2.4 million into its company bank account over 18 months. Almost that much was subsequently withdrawn.
Essentially, Attisha, Asmar, and Shammas had parts of their operation tucked away all over the city. And it took a nearly two-year-long investigation to reach an indictment against the Detroit weed ring’s operators. An indictment which comes at an interesting time in Michigan’s ongoing efforts to expand cannabis legalization.
This year, Michigan officials have struggled to meet even their own deadlines to approve operating licenses for the state’s nascent medical cannabis industry. And while applicants have awaited approval, Michigan voters are about to lap state lawmakers with a vote on adult-use legalization this November.
High-profile criminal marijuana cases like this one also draw attention to the connectedness of states regarding legal cannabis. Legalization doesn’t just impact the state that passes a medical or adult-use law. It can also impact states across the country. The Detroit donut shop weed ring was trafficking product from California, for example. Recently, California has tried to limit this kind of black market diversion by implementing new rules to better track the state’s legal cannabis supply.
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