SJ Councilmember indicted for allegedly operating illegal marijuana dispensary

San Jacinto City Councilmember Joel Lopez. Valley News/Courtesy photo

San Jacinto City Councilmember Joel Lopez along with one other man, have been indicted on four charges stemming from an alleged illegal marijuana dispensary, according to reports obtained by Valley News.

Lopez, 35, was indicted on felony counts of conspiracy and maintaining an unlawful marijuana facility, as well as misdemeanor counts of selling cannabis without a permit and failure to file a sales and use tax return with the state.

Edward Padilla Jr., 32, of San Jacinto was also indicted for the same charges.

Lopez, who was arrested by deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department San Jacinto Station, June 10, is free on bond posted the same day, but Padilla remains in custody on $100,000 bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. He’s slated to be arraigned Tuesday at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, the defendants came under investigation in 2019 after evidence surfaced that they had allegedly been operating a cannabis shop, alternately called “Santa Fe Co-Op,” “Santa Fe Collective” and “Santa Fe.”

The pair also hired others to help run the illicit dispensary, located at 1190 S. San Jacinto Ave., according to prosecutors.

The indictment alleges the men “placed cannabis or THC products for sale in display cases,” and that they “sold cannabis or THC products … to members of the public,” according to the DA’s office.

A mobile delivery service was also utilized.

The amount of money collected from the operation was not disclosed and there was also no word on when the business was shut down.

Neither Lopez nor Padilla have any documented prior felony convictions in Riverside
County. Padilla was elected to his first term in November 2018.

City News Service contributed to this story.

Attempts to reach Lopez before press time have been unsuccessful, but this story will be updated as more information becomes available.