CROOKED COPS TRY AND FRAME CANNABIS ENTREPRENEUR
By Joel Camarena
I’m a Denver Native and I love my city and I also love the fuck out of weed! Running a quick background check on me would reveal a multitude of marijuana charges dating back as far as the 90’s. I guess you can say, Maryjane and I have a love-hate relationship, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And just like everyone else has a past, so do I, and mine is all about the weed.
I started crossing weed over the border when I was 13 years old. When I was 12 my mother got sick and I had to go live in Palomas, Mexico with my Aunt and my uncle, it was a small border town about an hour west of Juarez. My uncle was a prominent figure in the city, he owned a cattle exportation business along with a few stores and bars. He busted my ass and treated me like one of his workers and I tended to all the duties of the ranch and the businesses. My dad wasn’t around, so my uncle was like my father figure and he instilled strong work ethic in me at an early age. I’m thankful for the things he taught me and extremely grateful for having him in my life.
Despite living in Mexico, I went to school in the United States, commuting on a school bus that would jump the border every freakin’ day. For each crossing, my classmates and I would have to get off the bus and go through customs security, which was quite the experience considering how tightly our borders are secured today. School was cool, but I eventually started hanging around more with my friends and was constantly ditching class. Back in those days I had a few friends who smoked weed, but I wasn’t really into it at the time because I knew my uncle would whoop my ass.
My uncle had a bodega in the back of the ranch house that was used for storage and stuff. I was never really allowed to go in there, but I had my suspicions seeing as trucks were always pulling in and out. One day, curiosity got the best of me and I snuck in only to discover multiple bales of weed hidden under a large tarp. I didn’t think much of it at the time and just keep it to myself, never telling a soul.
After years of crossing the border on the school bus, I had noticed that there were certain days of the month that they didn’t make us walk through customs security and would instead just let the bus pass through. Realizing this, one day I decided to sneak a couple of buds across the border by hiding them in my shoe, later that day I gave it to my friends and they absolutely loved it. They kept asking me for more and before I knew it, I was smuggling pounds of weed across the border in my school bus.
I started smoking weed when I moved back to Denver with my mother, but I was constantly going back to Mexico. I loved visiting my family and absorbing the culture, but being there can sometimes be dangerous. I remember the first time I got caught with weed, I was fifteen years old, some friends and I were smoking outside of a Quinceañera in Chihuahua, Mexico. When all of a sudden the fuckin sheriff shows up out of nowhere and throws me and my friend in the back of his suburban and hauls us off to jail. They sat us down and asked us where we got the weed, I said we found it. He said “Okay, so you found it,” as he started filling up a bin full of water, and all the while I’m thinking to myself “Why the hell is he doing that?” Suddenly they throw us down on our knees and start dunking our heads into the bin and I just can’t believe what’s happening! As they brought me up for air they asked me again, “Where did you get it?” I kept saying we found it in a ditch and thankfully, after a few more dunks, they believed us. They then proceeded to take off our clothes, handcuffed us back to back, and threw us in a cold ass jail cell. My uncle eventually found us in the morning and got us out, they didn’t know who they had fucked with and they soon paid for what they had did to us.
At the age of 25 I got caught with 90 lbs of Mexican brick sinsemilla in Pueblo, Colorado. The judge, who was not very fond of marijuana, said I was bringing poison into his county and wanted to give me five years in prison. If only he knew what we all know now, right. So I bonded out and got a nine-to-five and I enrolled myself in college for graphic design and digital arts. When the time came for sentencing the judge showed me leniency in light of how much I had progressed into a productive member of society and decided to lighten my sentence and only gave me three years with a five year tail.
I got out in less than a year with good behavior and moved to El Paso, Texas to take care of my father, whose health was deteriorating at the time. I was able to re-enroll in college and finish my associate degree in digital arts and graphic design. And even though I was on paper I was still crossing the border into Mexico to visit family and handle business, they never once found out. A couple of years later, I got caught again with a weed shipment in Denver. Since I was on parole, I was looking at 8-12 years for an aggravated felony case. I was able to beat the case for Illegal search and seizure and because they also beat my ass. When they arrested me, they had no probable cause or a search warrant and so I stood up for my rights and they fucked me up for it! They broke my nose on the asphalt and choked me out, I woke up in an ambulance handcuffed to the bed on my way to Denver General hospital! Thank God I woke up. The good thing too is that my parole officer back in Texas never found out about that case, otherwise I would’ve ended up back in prison for violation.
I successfully got off parole in 2006 without any violations that they knew of. The following year I got caught in Mexico, and trust me, you do not want to get caught up in Mexico! That’s too long of a story that I really don’t want to get in to, but I made a promise to God, that if he saved me from that one I would get out of the illegal marijuana drug trade and he did. He saved me from a hellish shit-hole prison in Juarez, Mexico. I kept my promise and I moved back to Denver and started a marketing company, I completely quit the weed game cold turkey, but I still smoked my Cronic! The following year the Sinaloa Cartel invaded the state of Chihuahua for control of the territory and drug routes and a lot of my family members and friends tragically perished in the bloodshed. I miss them, God bless the dead.
Enter 2010 and Denver had just legalized marijuana for medicinal use and there were dispensaries popping up everywhere! I was in awe, after all I’ve been through and now you’re going to legalize it, fuck yeah! I felt my calling once again, after all, I’ve kept my promise and never went back to Mexico. It was now legal in my city and opportunity was a knockin’. And that’s where my degree in graphic design kicked in and I created a publication called “Cronic Lifestyle Magazine”. Life’s a trip, if it weren’t for me getting busted, I would have never went to college and if I would’ve never went to college I would have never started my magazine, I really don’t want to sound cliché but I guess everything does happen for a reason!
My magazine opened up many doors for me and I met a lot of dispensaries owners and professionals in the industry. I created a vast network of dispensary owners and I knew who had weed and who needed it, so I created a distribution company called Ganja Genie that supplied dispensaries with weed. And since I was working with legitimate marijuana businesses it was totally legal. I couldn’t believe it, this is what landed me in jail 10 years prior, how freakin’ ironic is that! I soon opened up a marijuana clinic called Cronic Consulting and had a doctor writing medical marijuana prescriptions for patients on a daily basis. The green rush was flourishing in the Rocky Mountains and I was set to take full advantage of it!
In 2012, Colorado became the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, but laws didn’t go into effect until 2014. Once that happened, I got rid of my clinic since it wasn’t as profitable anymore and I wanted to break into the recreational market. Unfortunately, my felonies prevented me from getting a dispensary license, which I felt was complete bullshit. I couldn’t believe that I was being denied such a great opportunity after all I had been through. Marijuana felons are the pioneers and shouldn’t be barred from owning a dispensary, Illinois just recently tried to remedy that when they become recreational but it was shot down! Just another form of oppression, and who does it affect, people of color. For far too long people of race have been denied opportunities and equality under laws enacted by the leaders of this society.
Anyways, how’s that saying go, you can’t keep a good man down. Colorado’s Amendment 64 allows for any adult to gift any other adult up to an ounce of marijuana. So what I did was open up a headshop called Cronic Life and when you bought a pipe at my store I gave you free weed! As long as my employees were checking I.D.’s and the customer was 21 and up, it was totally legal, and I did this for almost 3 years! There was even a time when the cops raided my store but they couldn’t do nothing to me because I wasn’t breaking any laws! The only thing they did was give my manager a $500 fine for marijuana consumption in a business because I had an illegal smoking lounge for my customers. When Colorado became recreational, they forgot to draft laws that would allow adults access to smoke safe environments.
As a result of that $500 fine, I was motivated to try and figure out a solution so that I can have a legal smoking lounge on my property. I researched the laws and decided to buy a 40 foot party bus and parked it in the back of my store. Since the bus wasn’t part of the store it was a completely legal smoking lounge and that’s where I allowed my customers to smoke their free ganja. I had the whole bus wrapped into a big fat joint and named it “The Rollin’ Joint”, we were always taking it out to cannabis events and concerts and just riding around blazin’ up the city! It was also the first mobile smoking lounge in Denver that took people on tours to dispensaries and grow warehouses.
In 2016 I made my magazine a national publication and went to Miami Florida to expand my horizons. They had a huge black market and the state was set to legalize medical marijuana, making it an ideal business venture for me. I started the magazine in the Sunshine state and Miami showed me a lot of love, but it just didn’t gain any traction for lack of a legal market and businesses were reluctant to advertise in a marijuana magazine. Regardless, I kept at it for months, attending networking events with the locals, threw some yacht parties and made some really good friends! Til this day Florida is still dragging their feet. Their medical licensing program is monopolized and they’re certainly not taking advantage of their black market, what they need to do is go recreational and legalize paradise already.
In 2018, Mexico moved to legalize marijuana, now that really blew my mind. Their Supreme Court’s standard mandates that the courts must allow recreational use, possession and cultivation. Commercialization and sales is not permitted at the time but regardless I saw an opportunity and wanted to be ahead of the curve. I decided to start a Spanish medical marijuana magazine called Verde Vida in Mexico and Colombia since they are both emerging markets. I debuted the magazine in Mexico City in November of 2019 along with my CBD product line. Mexico has a high demand for CBD but the government isn’t allowing any production at the moment and is only importing hemp products for now. Which is the reason why I started a company that imports hemp products and bio-mass from the U.S to Latin American countries, but mainly Mexico since the border is only nine hours away from Denver.
So that’s a bit of my history in a nutshell, as you can see I love my weed. There’s a lot of in-betweens and you wouldn’t even believe all the crazy details, but that’s not the point. The point of this story is not even about me, but what a group of dirty police officers are trying to do to me. And the only reason why I’m even telling this story is because I feel like using my platform is the only way I can defend myself from the ones that are sworn to serve and protect us. In all reality, were they ever meant to protect minorities? Let history as well as modern statistics speak for themselves. I’ve been racially profiled my whole life, I’ve been assaulted by the police a few times, I’ve had good friends die by the hands of trigger happy cops. It’s not bad enough that I’ve been fighting this racially unjust system my whole life, but now I have to fight against these crooked cops too!
Back in February 2020 before all this corona-virus bullshit hit, I was coming out of a Mexican restaurant and I was getting into my car when all of a sudden I was rushed by Denver PD and four undercover officers, just for looking suspicious! They asked if they can search my car and I agreed, just for the simple fact that I had nothing to hide. The search resulted in one pound of Gorilla Glue #4 which by the way was my personal stash and which I had a license for. They also found a pound of CBD hemp which I had just picked up to show a potential client and which I had the Certificate of Analysis to prove that it was hemp. I also had a little over $10,000 dollars on me that I had just picked up from a few advertisers for the next issue of the magazine, I even showed them the magazine and tried to give them a few copies.
All that proof didn’t matter to these dumb fucks, they didn’t see a legitimate business man, all they saw was my criminal record and the color of my skin. They disregarded all my paperwork that exonerated me and proved that I was in full compliance under Colorado state law. They violated my rights, they took my weed, took my money, threw my ass in jail and charged me with felony distribution! Wait, what the fuck just happened? I was flabbergasted and I couldn’t believe this was happening to me in my own city! I bonded out of jail quick and even though it had been a while, I once again had to lawyer up. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of what seemed to be like a twisted script straight out of a fuckin movie.
No jury of my peers will ever convict me on such a bogus charge and they know that. They fucked up, no big deal right, just dismiss the case and all is forgotten. But they don’t want to dismiss, and they don’t want to forget. So I’m out on bond and a few weeks later I’m going about my business when I decided to go visit a friend of mine at his house. We were just chillin’, talkin’ and tokin’ when all of sudden the cops showed up out of nowhere, guns drawn, claiming the neighbor had called 911 to report a man with a gun in an Escalade, bullshit but ok! So they ran a check on us, searched us and of course they didn’t find anything. A few weeks after that, I get pulled over for absolutely no reason, surrounded by cops with guns drawn once again. And according to them, my vehicle had been involved in some sort of crime, some more bullshit, but ok, they search me and guess what, they didn’t find anything again!
For privacy reasons, I don’t have anything under my name at my house, so in all reality it’s like I don’t even live there. One day an undercover cop pulls up to the side of my crib and lets out a little drone from his sunroof and performs an aerial surveillance on my property! What the fuck is up with that and how do they know where I live! Again, I don’t have anything to hide, but I started to wonder as to why these things were happening and the first thing that came to mind was that I was being tracked by my Escalade! Now it all made sense, I figured when they took my ass to jail they planted the GPS tracker on my ride and they’ve been tracking me ever since. For what reasons, I do not know.
So I got rid of it, I took my whip to get detailed real nice and drove it back to the dealership where I got it from. I know the owner personally so it was cool, he gave me a little less than what I paid. The next day he calls me and tells me that during the night someone broke through his fence and out of all the cars on his lot they took my old Escalade! He said the cops were there and that he was filling out a police report and asked if I knew anything about it, I said no. And I knew right then and there that there was definitely something fishy going on.
A few hours later the cops call the owner of the dealership and told him that they had found the stolen Escalade and that they need the registered owner to pick it up. He said that the vehicle was taken from his car lot and that he was the owner and that he can go pick it up. These fuckers knew the vehicle was still registered under my name! They said “no, you can’t come get it, we need the registered owner, Joel Camarena to come get it because we found 3 pounds of crystal meth in his vehicle!” Now anyone who knows me, knows I don’t fuck around with that nasty shit, I’m all about my weed bro. So after he gets off the phone with them, he calls me and ask me if I know anything about the 3 pounds of crystal meth that was left behind in the car! I said, “What the fuck are you talking about?” He knows I don’t fuck around with that shit, so he knew it wasn’t mine.
Not even 5 minutes after getting off the phone with the owner of the dealership, I get a call from a cop telling me to go pick up my Escalade. I said “with all due respect officer I relinquished ownership of that vehicle a few days ago so you need to call the owner of the dealership where I dropped it off so he can pick it up.” He said I was the registered owner and that I was the one that needed to go, I said “nope, that’s not my car” and that I had already left the state, he then asked where I went, I just laughed and hung up on his ass. What they didn’t know was that the owner of the dealership was a friend of mine and if it wasn’t for him giving me the heads up, I probably would have gone and picked it up.
How fuckin brazen these dirty cops are to go to those lengths to try and frame me. But really, who the fuck am I? And since it was still registered under my name they made the owner of the dealership sign documentation stating that he took full responsibility for the Escalade and its contents. That’s how much the owner of the dealership trusts me and that’s how bad these bastards wanted me. For what reason, I have no fuckin clue, but I do have a very powerful attorney and a private investigator on the case. Just think, if they would have succeeded with their evil scheme I’d be writing this story from a jail cell, my children would be without a father and my companies would have been severely impacted, I would have been done! They were trying to put that shit on me even before I got rid of my car, but God is great and he kept me a step ahead of these white devils and saved me from years of imprisonment and destruction.
I’ve done my time for my marijuana crime, I’ve put in work marching at every 4/20 rally to bring legalization to Colorado. I am a rights activist and a positive member of my community and I have never had a charge for any other drug other than weed on my record. I’ve never liked guns and I’ve never been charged with possession of a firearm so for me to be labeled “armed and dangerous” on my police profile puts my life in danger every time I get pulled over. I seriously don’t know what they want with me, yes I have a past but that isn’t me anymore, I’ve evolved, I run businesses and make legitimate money and have no need to do anything outside of the law.
They used to use weed to control us and oppress us, by locking us up and giving us felonies. Thus, making it harder for us to get an education, a job, a loan or even open up a business. And then they wonder why we do the things we do because we have ambition too. Amerikkka you’ve created this monster, it’s been decades long of systemic racism that has brought us to this melting point and sweetheart, we are not going back! We’re going to keep fighting and pushing our agenda for justice forward. This is Denver, the Mile-High city, the Marijuana capital of the world, we are a colorful Colorado and together we will rise above the tyranny and triumph over the evil that tries to oppress us and destroy us.
If you, or anyone you know, has experienced police brutality or corruption please join us in peacefully protesting in demand for justice and police reformation.
PURGE DENVER PD this Halloween October 31st, 2020 @ 4;20pm at Denver’s Capital and bring your mask.