Huge indoor marijuana grow found near Modesto

Bay Area men accused of running biggest indoor grow site in county history

The largest indoor marijuana operation ever discovered in Stanislaus County was busted by local, state and federal officers Monday.

A barn at 10815 S. Carpenter Road in Crows Landing was producing about $2 million worth of marijuana every three months, according to local law enforcement.

Six men were apprehended at the property Monday. The men, all from the Bay Area, were arrested and booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of possession, cultivation and sales of marijuana; conspiracy; and weapons charges.

Law enforcement officials were tipped off to the operation in a rural area south of Modesto by a member of the public and launched an investigation. What they found was a large-scale growing operation with a generator to provide power to the lighting, irrigation and heating systems.

“It was sophisticated and elaborate to the point that it was so self-contained,” said Sgt. Rick Armendariz, a Modesto police spokesman. “It had an industrial generator that was running everything, and everything was on timers and separated into different phases of growth.”

The facility, estimated to be 240 feet long by 40 feet wide, was filled with more than 2,000 marijuana plants. Agents said they found 53 pounds of finished product, ready to be packaged. They also recovered four rifles and a handgun.

The basement was being used to process the marijuana once it was harvested. Officials estimate that the operation could produce 500 pounds of finished marijuana every three months. The street value is $4,000 a pound.

Armendariz said the suspects claimed that the operation has been going since October, although officials believe it’s been running longer than that.

The barn was leased from its owners, who are not under investigation and are cooperating with law enforcement.

Arrested were Andy Wk Chan, 61, of San Mateo; Michael Ru Chau, 53, of San Francisco; John Zhong Huang, 35, of El Cerrito; Chiu Chuen Lau, 33, of San Leandro; Tony Chao Fan Luo, 32, of San Francisco; and Yoa Ming Yu, 38, of San Francisco.

Agents from the Stanislaus County Drug Enforcement Agency, Central Valley California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, California Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team and federal Drug Enforcement Administration collaborated on the bust.

Armendariz said the investigation continues. It’s unclear whether the marijuana was being sold locally or distributed throughout the state or whether the operation was linked to any known criminal organizations.

“That is one of the things the investigators are following up on,” he said. “Why this location and if there are any other locations similar to this.”

No arraignment date is set; the case could be prosecuted federally.

via : The Modesto Bee

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