11 Linked to Krishna Cult Indicted in Narcotics Case

Los Angles Times/November 6, 1979

Eleven men identified by investigators as present or former members of Southern California Hare Krishna temples have been indicted on federal narcotics smuggling and income-tax evasion charges, the U.S. attorney's office reported Monday.

The 11 are charged with involvement in the smuggling of large quantities of hashish oil, a potent marijuana derivative from Pakistan into the U.S. in 1976 and 1977. Arrested in his Laguna Beach home was the alleged ringleader of the operation, Joseph Shelton Davis III, a former member of the Laguna Beach Hare Krishna Temple who was convicted last year in an Orange County narcotics-related kidnapping case. Still being sought were a number of other parsons identified as having been affiliated with the Laguna Beach or San Diego Temple, including Roy Christopher Richard, a former president of the Laguna group.

Officials of the International Society of Krishnas quickly disavowed any connection with the persons named in the indictment. A spokesman, Eric Larsen, said the church has strict rules against use of or involvement with intoxicants of any kind. “If anyone breaks these rules, they don't belong to our movement,” Larson said.

The indictment in the case did not mention the Hare Krishna church, but ten of the 11 men indicted were named by both their Christian names and by their adopted Krishna names. It also alleges that Davis set up several legitimate business fronts through which the proceeds of narcotics sales could be laundered, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Included among those businesses were Prasadam Distributing International, Inc. (offices in Newport Beach) and Govinda's Restaurant, a vegetarian restaurant in Laguna Beach. Davis was ordered held in lieu of $500,000 bail. Also held was Patrick W. Kenealy.

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