By Barbara Barte Osborn
Drug-enforcement agents arrested eight men and seized 2,804 marijuana plants for destruction Monday at an alleged longstanding pot-growing and distribution operation in Rough and Ready, Nevada County. Law enforcement officials linked the pot ring to a Sacramento cannabis club.
The federal search warrant was served at a home in the 11000 block of Glen Loop following a two-year joint investigation by Nevada County, state and federal agents, county Sheriff Keith Royal said in a news release. (Photo left is of pot plants seized during the raid. The photo was provided by the Nevada County Sheriff's Department.)
Arrested at the scene was the property owner, John Gross II, 68; Kenneth Gross, 42; Jack Lions, 58; and Salvador Reyes, 53, all from Rough and Ready, the release states.
Also during the search, three alleged employees of the operation were arrested: Travis Hronis, 21, Grass Valley; Matthew Maya, 19, Penn Valley; and Brendon Maya, 22, Penn Valley, the sheriff said.
While officers were at the scene, John Gross III, 46, Rough and Ready, arrived and was also arrested for alleged involvement in the operation, the release states.
"Mr. Gross III is affiliated with the P Street Cannabis Club out of Sacramento and admitted to agents that the marijuana was being grown and sold to several patients from the club...," Royal said in the release.
"It appears a substantial profit has been made from this marijuana cultivation via the dispensary," he said.
The eight suspects were booked at the Sacramento County Jail for investigation of illegal cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
After being photographed from the air in 2008, the operation continued to increase in size, Royal said.
In addition to the plants, grown in greenhouses and outdoors, agents seized approximately 200 pounds of processed marijuana, plastic bags and totes and $5,000 cash.
A cargo trailer used as a drying room, two backhoes, a bulldozer, and various vehicles, including a Ford truck, all allegedly used to facilitate the marijuana cultivation, were also seized.
John Gross II was convicted in 2005 on state charges in Oregon of marijuana cultivation and distribution, Royal said.
Monday's search was conducted by agents from the Nevada County Narcotics Task Force, federal Drug Enforcement Agency, Mountain and Valley Marijuana Investigation Team, which is a multi-agency task force of the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement; and the Internal Revenue Service.