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Sheriff: WeHo murder connected to pot clinics

September 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A man suspected of killing three people to get his hands on some marijuana has been charged with three counts of capital murder. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca is using the case to highlight what he believes are the dangers of legalized pot clinics.Harold Yong Park was set to be arraigned on murder charges Wednesday in Beverly Hills, but instead his arraignment was continued until September 14.

Sheriff Baca wants to use the case, pointing to it how it magnifies the problem they have with some medical marijuana dispensaries in Southern California. He says it also points to just how important technology has become in assisting authorities in catching suspects.

Baca stood at a podium Wednesday about an arm's length from a photo of a man they captured. Officials say Harold Yong Park, 31, of Los Angeles, confessed to killing three men at the Kings Road Arms apartment complex last Thursday after a drug deal went bad.

"His original arrival at that location was for the purchasing of several thousand dollars of marijuana," said L.A. County Sheriff's Lt. Pat Nelson. "Unfortunately the deal didn't go as he had hoped, I'm sure, and three people lost their lives as a result of it."

Park was arrested Monday in Lomita with approximately five pounds of marijuana, valued at $20,000-$25,000, in his car.

Investigators say two of the three murder victims, Pirooz Moussazadeh, 27, Bernard Khalili, 27, were buying high-grade marijuana from local pot dispensaries, then reselling it.

The third victim, Pirooz's 38-year-old brother, Shahriar Moussazadeh, was not involved in the transaction.

Baca says the root of the problem is that the medical marijuana program has been hijacked by criminals.

"Is it no surprise that people are going to get killed behind this kind of easy profit? Drugs, violence go together. High profit, violence, goes together," said Baca.

Deputies credit technology for assisting in Park's arrest. One of the 40 squad cars equipped with automatic license plate recognition got a hit on Park's car Monday morning in Lomita.

He was taken into custody just over an hour later.

"They can scan thousands of license plates in just moments," said L.A. County Sheriff's Capt. Ronene Anda. "It's times like this that it absolutely proves its worthiness."

In all, Park faces eight felony counts. The most serious of those, the three felony counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances, mean that Park could face the death penalty.


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