Berkeley men arrested, linked to pills, 26 pounds of pot

Alameda County district attorney’s office seal, via Facebook. Authorities arrested two West Berkeley roommates earlier this month, tying them to a drug sales operation involving prescription pills and a mail order marijuana business.

According to court documents, a traffic stop Dec. 3 was the beginning of an investigation that ultimately uncovered more than 500 prescription pills and 17 pounds of marijuana in a home in the 2200 block of Sixth Street, along with another nine pounds of marijuana discovered during the vehicle stop.

At approximately 5:45 that night, Berkeley Police officer Chris Flores wrote that he stopped Joshua Carl Hamburg, 22, after seeing him run a stop sign at Seventh and Hearst streets. During the stop, Flores said he smelled “a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.”

He asked Hamburg about the smell “and he showed me a bud of marijuana that he had on top of his middle console,” wrote Flores.

The officer asked Hamburg to get out so he could search the vehicle. Flores said he found nine vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana, each weighing about a pound, inside a storage container in the car’s back seat.

In the trunk, wrote Flores, were 50 or so unused U.S. Postal Service packages for mailing.

Police also searched Hamburg’s cellphone and, according to Flores, found text messages “indicating that he was shipping marijuana to unknown recipients within the United States. There were also text messages indicating that he was selling prescription pills to unknown recipients.”

Hamburg was arrested, and police obtained a search warrant for his home on Sixth Street. During a search of Hamburg’s bedroom, Flores wrote that police found, among other prescription drugs, 146 amphetamine pills, 147 Alprazolam (trade name: Xanax) pills, 127 oxycodone hydrochloride pills and 71 opium alkaloid pills.

Police also reported the discovery of drug packaging, money, digital scales and 17 pounds of marijuana in the house.

According to court documents, police found four prescription alprazolam pills in a bedroom closet belonging to housemate Peter Baranovskis. The 22-year-old was arrested just before 11:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Police Department.

“A search of his cell phone revealed text messages indicating he was also selling marijuana,” wrote Flores.

Both men have been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with felony possession of marijuana for sale and felony possession of a controlled substance (Alprazolam).

Hamburg was also charged with another felony count of marijuana possession for sale, and two felony possession counts for sale of a controlled substance. He posted a $350,000 bond and is out on bail.

According to his bio, via a Chicago-area company where he previously worked, Hamburg “is a musician and budding musicians’ promoter” based in Berkeley who is “focused on music, music therapy, music cognition, and social enterprise.” The bio said, as of two years ago, Hamburg was “enrolled in the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management Certificate Program at UC Berkeley Extension.” According to a more recent online profile, Hamburg has attended Berkeley City College.

Baranovskis posted a $40,000 bond and is out on bail.

Both are set to appear in court Jan. 23 for a pre-trial hearing at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

Teen arrested after robbery tied to medical cannabis buy (12.12.13)
2 charged with robbery after drug deal gone awry (10.30.13)
Police arrest Berkeley man with guns after robbery (10.14.13)
Berkeley Police arrest 2 felons with heroin, handguns (10.11.13)
Police arrest alleged drug dealer with loaded gun (05.30.13)

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  • Just Sayin

    9 lbs of pot in your car AND you run a stop sign?

  • bingo

    that sense of humor will serve him well in prison.

  • Bill N

    2nd that.

  • EBGuy

    You gotta love cell phones… Anything you text can and will be used against you. Almost makes you long for the good ole days when you had to subpoena phone records instead of looking at the call log. Were any Bitcoins seized?

  • Doug F

    Good to see he actually learned something in his entrepeneurship class. Which doesn’t appear to have had a segment on How To Avoid Getting Caught.

    People with anything illegal in their car know they really need to obey all traffic laws religiously. But their intense hood need to defy authority overrides that, & they just can’t help themselves. Poor impulse control.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    Legalize prescription pills…and the problem will go away

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    the 26 lbs.were for personal medical use…now tell me pot isn’t a gateway drug…they all go hand in hand together.

  • guest

    Not to mention that his brain was probably addled from smoking dope.

  • dsd510

    Countless studies show that pot isn’t a gateway drug, and in this context it really makes no sense — clearly they’re after money with their operation. The reason pot could even possibly be a gateway drug in this case is because it’s not legal so if someone wants to buy it, they need to go to someone like this who’s also peddling much stronger stuff.

  • dsd510

    “Police also searched Hamburg’s cell phone” — don’t they need a warrant for that? (Not defending the dealer; driving while impaired is unacceptable, just curious.)

  • emraguso

    According to the document completed by Flores: “A probable cause search of Hamburg’s cell phone revealed text messages indicating that he was shipping marijuana to unknown recipients within the United States. There were also text messages indicating that he was selling prescription pills to unknown recipients.” Perhaps finding the drugs in the car gave them cause to search the phone — but I’m not sure how that works legally.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    you’re correct…not everyone who smokes pot also does crack or meth but most meth and crack users also use pot and that is probably the first drug they used as a young person you’re correct some pot users have the will power to stop at weed but a lot don’t…

  • guest

    “you’re correct some pot users have the will power to stop at weed but a lot don’t…”

    Why is this a question of “will power” rather than preference?

  • supersickandtired

    Because it takes will power to stop using an addictive drug not preference.

  • guest

    “you’re correct…not everyone who smokes pot also does crack or meth but most meth and crack users also use pot”

    Not everyone who breathes also does crack and meth, but most meth and crack users also breathe.

  • guest

    That seems to me to be incorrect.

  • guest

    Is it certain drugs that are addictive rather than the ‘personality’ or ‘biochemistry’ of the user? Is alcohol ‘addictive’? Is marijuana ‘addictive’? There is, of course, no question about ‘narcotics’.

  • guest

    So either:
    a) this guy didn’t have a prescription (thus making the bud on the dashboard illegal)(and legalizing a search
    b)he didn’t know that you don’t have to let police search your car without a warrant. They ask you for permission, and you literally can just say “no”.
    I’m curious to know which.

  • guest

    Not if they asked him permission and he foolishly gave it, which is possible.

  • coolgai

    i know dese guys :3