LAS VEGAS – Marijuana dispensaries have become a target for burglaries and robberies throughout southern Nevada.
A victim is speaking out for the first time and sharing video with the I-Team about an armed robbery at CannaCopia Marijuana Dispensary that happened in January. The dispensary is located in the southwest valley.
“Did I feel threatened of my life? Absolutely,” said Brenden Mendez, armed robbery victim.
He was one of two employees working. Mendez was behind the counter. The other employee was behind some glass. There were no customers in the business.
“We had basically made the decision to not value another person’s life over the marijuana products that we had in the back,” Mendez said.
He says, it started after a man walked in and asked for information as if he were a medical marijuana patient. Then, the gunman rushed in and made demands.
“He had a gun to that patient’s neck and threatened us to kill him if we didn’t allow him access into our facility,” Mendez said.
The employees unlocked a second security door to let the masked man in. Mendez says, he used zip ties on their hands to restrain them while making demands.
“Through the waving of a gun in the face and saying to ‘do it now, do it now,’ I do not believe he had said I will kill you or you will die, but he was implying with a forceful notion that I needed to do what he was saying or there will be some sort of reprimand,” Mendez said.
That masked man then ran out with some stolen product and the other guy who claimed to be a patient turned hostage quickly left too.
“He proceeded to yell at us that he wasn’t with the other individual and just got up and ran.”
That behavior raised a red flag. Was he a victim or accomplice?
“There’s a difference between acting fearful and acting and being fearful,” Mendez said.
Shortly after the crime, police released these photos to the public asking for help in identifying the masked man.
And before it happened, Managing Director Robert Casillas says there were already attempts to break in during off hours.
“No matter what you do, you’re a target,” Casillas said.
Still he says CannaCopia has upped security. Some improvements he is willing to discuss and some he won’t.
“The less people know about our security measures and the industry security measures, the better and safer everybody is,” Casillas said.
“When you pull up to a dispensary, a lot of people don’t know there is an armed security out there in the parking lot or within the vicinity,” he said.
Mendez worked at the dispensary for several months after the armed robbery, but doesn’t anymore.
What he thought would be a typical day of work was anything but.
“I was extremely angry, but thankful that nobody in the facility had gotten hurt, Mendez said. “Sometimes it sucks that these things happen but it’s fortunate that you have the ability to look back on life and reflect and be grateful for the things that you do have.”
According to police, one arrest was made in connection to the armed robbery. They say the suspect was arrested while committing another robbery in Colorado. The suspect was also wanted in connection with another robbery in Arizona.
Police told the I-Team the man who claimed to be a patient is also believed to be a suspect, but he hasn’t been arrested.