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.

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