Head of illegal marijuana dispensary ring sentenced to 21 years

Medical marijuana vials are displayed at a dispensary in Venice.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

An Orange County man who ran a string of illegal marijuana dispensaries was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison Monday and ordered to pay more than $4.2 million in restitution.

John “Pops” Walker, 56, of San Clemente, pleaded guilty in an April plea agreement to drug trafficking, tax evasion and owning weapons as part of the drug trafficking.

Walker was indicted last fall along with 13 other defendants by a federal grand jury. As the head of the drug ring, Walker operated at least nine dispensaries set up in Los Angeles and Orange counties. He admitted to prosecutors that he made more than $25 million over six years and paid taxes on only a fraction of it.


Walker was ordered Monday to pay $2.4 million to the Internal Revenue Service and $1.8 million to the California Board of Equalization. The government also seized $25 million in income, his multimillion-dollar home in San Clemente, several mobile homes in Mammoth Lakes, a property in Long Beach and his stake in two strip clubs.

He was also sentenced to 262 months in federal prison.

In court documents, prosecutors said Walker was “the kingpin of a large, organized criminal enterprise awash in narcotics, firearms, and, most of all, money” whose conduct was not “the result of some misplaced idealism or altruistic instinct, but was rather driven by his insatiable quest for the massive illicit profits generated by his crimes, and the luxurious lifestyle those profits bought.”


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