The legitimate marijuana industry is in its infancy in the United States, but presents huge opportunities for business owners who can stay within the boundaries of the law. Unfortunately, some of these budding entrepreneurs bring with them a history of criminal or less-than-reputable behavior.
When considering funding these businesses or granting them the proper licenses to distribute, government agencies often rely on investigators to help them ensure they are dealing with trustworthy individuals. Such was the case in June 2017, when a local government agency contracted Pilum to investigate a proposed company known as “The Green Mile”.
Here’s What Happened
In June 2017, Peter, a resident of New York, applied to the state regulatory agency for a marijuana license authorizing him to become an investor/owner in a local marijuana cultivating business. The application was passed to our Pilum team for investigation and assigned to one of our experienced investigators—a retired DEA agent.
Upon receipt, the investigator reviewed the application and discovered Peter was interested in investing $50,000 into the aforementioned marijuana business he identified as “The Green Highway.”
The investigator contacted Peter to inform him about the investigation and ask for his cooperation. Almost immediately, Peter emailed the investigator informing him that he was withdrawing his application. The investigator stopped the investigation, but the very next day, Peter contacted us asking us to reinstate his background investigation.
Here’s What We Found
Naturally suspicious of Peter’s hesitation, our investigator set out to determine the validity of Peter’s funding source. He contacted Peter’s financial institution to inquire, and within days, Peter contacted the investigator in a panic telling him in no uncertain terms that he was not to contact any of Peter’s banking institutions.
Of course, the law was on our side and our investigator persisted. A state government website revealed that Peter was the managing director of The Green Highway along with individuals identified as Richie and Gordan.
A background search of Ritchie revealed that he and other co-conspirators were arrested three months earlier by DEA and local law enforcement narcotics officers for operating illegal marijuana “house grows” in Colorado.
Intrigued by this discovery, the investigator dug deeper into Peter’s finances and found that he had invested $2,000,000 into the property housing The Green Highway marijuana cultivation operation; a property Peter claimed was simply a “real estate” company not associated with the cultivators.
How Pilum Cracked the Case
It was clear to our investigator at this point that Peter was lying, but we needed evidence linking him to illegal behavior. Using advanced investigative techniques, our investigator soon learned from sources that Peter was actually an unindicted co-conspirator in the on-going drug investigation involving his business partner, Ritchie.
It was time to interview Peter directly, and a Skype interview was arranged. During the interview, Peter exhibited all the behaviors and characteristics associated with defensiveness, deception, evasiveness, avoidance and inconsistency. Peter’s body language was telling, and he failed to disclose the true relationship between him, Ritchie, and the marijuana business/cultivation operation.
With all of the evidence in hand, we were able to deliver our “areas of concern” to the government agency evaluating the business: Peter was fearful of indictment and disclosure of his alleged involvement in illicit marijuana cultivation, drug trafficking, and money laundering, and was not likely to be a trustworthy business owner.
Let Pilum Help You Investigate Suspicious Individuals
If you work for a government agency or are a business owner considering placing significant trust or financial investments in an individual, you deserve to know you are making the right choice. The marijuana industry is certainly not the only place where criminals, fraudsters and crooks dabble, so let our experienced team of top-notch investigators help you weed out the bad seeds before they bring down your business.