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Sheriff's deputies responding to the burglary of a Lakeside medical marijuana dispensary on Friday, May 9, caught the thief, but also left the dispensary's operator facing criminal charges of her own.

Shortly before 4 a.m., deputies from Santee were dispatched to the Aurora Green collective on the 8500 block of Los Coches Road in response to a call from a neighbor who reported hearing the building's rear door being forced open.

After a brief search, 37-year-old Wendell Coleman was found hiding nearby on Snow White Drive. He was in possession of four pounds of marijuana, along with cannabis-laced baked goods collectively valued at $45,000. When business owner Blanca Estela Chavez identified the goods as having been stolen from her operation, Coleman was placed under arrest on burglary charges.

During the follow-up investigation, however, it was discovered that Aurora Green was not licensed or registered as a medical marijuana dispensary. Another 1.5 pounds of cannabis, as well as some cannabis concentrate wax, were confiscated from Chavez, who also found herself under arrest for possession of marijuana for sale as well as possession of a cannabis concentrate.

Chavez also faces a cease-and-desist order, effectively shuttering the Aurora Green operation.

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