A 36-year-old Santa Cruz cannabis business owner, Derek Hubbard, was arrested this week after a violent response to a break-in at his Encinal Street facility. The incident occurred on Monday morning when Hubbard, alerted by his security system, discovered the robbery in progress. According to Santa Cruz Police Deputy Chief Jon Bush, Hubbard allegedly rammed into and shot at the escape vehicles of multiple thieves as they were leaving the scene around 4:30 a.m.
Law enforcement officials were unable to apprehend the thieves, who managed to escape. Hubbard, who operates a cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution center, had previously been a victim of a break-in robbery. Investigators determined that Hubbard used lethal force without any threat of violence towards him, leading to his arrest.
Initially booked on suspicion of four counts of attempted murder, Hubbard now faces numerous lesser charges, including felony shooting at an inhabited dwelling, four counts of assault with a semiautomatic rifle, and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. The charges also include special enhancements for the use of a weapon during the commission of a felony.
Hubbard is currently held without bail at Santa Cruz County Jail and is scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday before Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Syda Cogliati.
During an interview with The Sentinel, an anonymous general manager of the cannabis business revealed that licensed cannabis businesses in the area have been targeted by an organized crime ring. The manager stated that these criminals employ large armed and masked groups, using professional tools to carry out break-ins. The manager estimated that at least 10 individuals were involved in Monday’s theft.
The cannabis industry professionals expressed concerns about the lack of law enforcement response compared to other businesses, despite being highly regulated and taxed. They believe they are being repeatedly targeted by criminals and feel endangered.
The police have recovered one of the vehicles believed to be involved in the robbery, which was reported stolen from the Bay Area. However, a description of the second vehicle involved has not been provided by the authorities. The investigation into the break-in and subsequent events is ongoing.