Former Marines James King and Keiko Arroyo now battle California’s cannabis bandits
Ahead of he can hoist a suitcase filled with $385,000 from the back of an unmarked Chevy Suburban in Silver Lake, Keiko Arroyo 1st has to set aside an AR-15 rifle draped more than his left leg, step out from the passenger seat, and keep away from an electric bike perched alongside Sunset Boulevard. Though his companion, James King, keeps a watchful eye, Arroyo circles to the back of the car and pulls out an inconspicuous suitcase, its grayish colour and roller wheels belying the stacks of cannabis money inside.
The two barrel-chested former Marines stick out amongst the dog walkers and coffee drinkers, but they have located a niche crisscrossing California, giving armed transport for weed companies. It is a burgeoning safety sector that is flourishing given that marijuana legalization, and one particular that prizes the warfare expertise that a generation of soldiers honed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But as marijuana sales step out of the shadows, it is unclear if the former soldiers plying their trade in cannabis will have a part for a lot longer.
California’s streets are flooded with weed items and money, but national banks and important safety organizations will not touch the stuff. Holding pot income could run them afoul of federal laws, so smaller sized safety firms, secret vaults, and a contingent of battle-hardened veterans have stepped into the gap.
Arroyo and King 1st worked with each other at a higher-finish jewelry retailer 15 years ago and later helped safe a Miami neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. For them the cannabis boom is an unexpected step in their quest for a profession unbound by 9-to-five gigs. “We’re not cubicle folks,” says Arroyo, a former marksmanship instructor.
King, 51, left the military in 1993 when the Marines attempted to relegate him to a desk job immediately after an injury. A self-described adrenaline junkie, he went on to function for defense contractors like Blackwater till 2014. He describes driving convoys via mountain roads in Afghanistan and coaching border police, a far cry from chauffeuring weed income in the carpool lane. “The tension level is not as higher,” says King, but the approaches are comparable. “Though I’m not concerned about somebody popping more than that wall with an RPG.”
Published: October 08, 2019