Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the timeframe of the investigation and to include a response from one of the parties invovled.
Authorities have shut down a South Los Angeles store that had been selling cannabis illegally for several years, the L.A. City Attorney announced on Tuesday.
The store, located in the 2100 block of West Florence Avenue, had been operating as an “unlicensed commercial cannabis storefront” since 2018 and was raided by police several times, Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto said in a news release.
The building is located within 700 feet of two elementary schools and a library.
Over the last four years, Los Angeles police received numerous complaints about the business being the site of illegal cannabis use and sales, heavy foot traffic and car accidents, prosecutors allege.
“The illegal activity at this store went on for far too long and was alarming for the neighborhood – with guns being recovered by law enforcement and complaints about the store selling cannabis products to minors,” Soto said. “That ends now. I’m proud that my office put a stop to this and helped to level the playing field for legitimate business owners who operate by the rules.”
LAPD officers executed nine search warrants which yielded “large amounts of cannabis, cash and guns, and at least four undercover purchase operations,” prosecutors said.
Despite the raids, authorities said the owners continued to operate.
The city attorney also alleges the operators “utilized shell companies and LLCs to hide their involvement and shirk responsibility tied to the illegal activity.”
The groups of owners dating back to 2018 were identified as:
-Jin Kang and his company JYP Investments, LLC. Kang is the current property owner.
-Tony Huang and his companies 2138 W Florence Investment LLC, Group 25 Holdings LLC, and TNS Management Group, LLC
-Philip Oh and his companies LA Florence Investment LLC and Global Solutions I LLC
In addition to shuttering the storefront, the owner and operators were ordered to pay $450,000 in civil penalties. If they violate the order to stop selling illegal cannabis, they’ll be fined a minimum of $1 million in civil penalties, officials said.
“Cannabis sales in California are regulated for good reason — to ensure that businesses operate safely and legally, keep cannabis from being sold to children and regulate the industry so as to avoid nuisances and undue concentration of cannabis locations in an area,” Soto said.
A spokesperson for Tony Huang issued a statement to KTLA:
“Tony Huang controlled a company that owned the property from August 2017 until October 2019, but neither Mr. Huang nor anyone at his company knew the tenants were operating an unlicensed dispensary. Mr. Huang sold the property in October 2019. Years later, in August 2022, the City named him in a complaint falsely alleging that Mr. Huang was working with the current owners to promote illegal cannabis sales. While Mr. Huang would have disproved the allegations at trial, the City then offered him a settlement that included a statement that he disputed the facts alleged in the complaint and that he pay a small fine. The settlement was for convenience only.”
The City Attorney’s Office declined to comment on this statement.