Sacto 9-1-1

Roseville police on Tuesday arrested three men in connection with a marijuana robbery and are looking for a fourth suspect.

About 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, three Sacramento men met with four other men in the parking lot of a Galleria Boulevard restaurant to conduct a marijuana sale, according to a Police Department news release. Instead of paying, the four suspects robbed the Sacramento men of their marijuana at gunpoint, then fled in a black Toyota sedan, police said.

A Roseville police officer spotted the vehicle on westbound Interstate 80 and followed it to the dead end of Kenroy Lane, off Riverside Avenue. Two of the passengers got out of the car and fled on foot. The other two remained with the car and were taken into custody.

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A San Francisco man today was found guilty of cultivating marijuana as part of a marijuana growing operation in Sacramento and Elk Grove.

The guilty verdict against Jian Hong Liang, 29, was returned by a federal court jury in Sacramento after a four-day trial before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia.

According to testimony presented at trial, between November 2005 and Sept. 1, 2006, Liang and several other people maintained 21 houses in the Sacramento and Elk Grove areas for the sole purpose of growing marijuana. Agents recovered approximately 13,849 plants and marijuana plant root balls from 20 of the homes, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. Officials said the homes in Sacramento and Elk Grove were acquired through mortgage fraud.

By Sam Stanton

Even after Sacramento District Attorney Jan Scully made it clear she was investigating the planned medical marijuana farm in Isleton last February, operators of the project quietly brought in more than 1,000 marijuana plants and began growing them inside the garages of three vacant homes on the property, a new grand jury report states.

But when federal authorities warned the city and project planners that they could face prosecution, a worker from Delta Allied Growers supposedly used a backhoe to bury the plants 10 to 15 feet underground on the site and all work stopped.

These are among the findings of a Sacramento County grand jury report released today that is sharply critical of Isleton city government and the would-be marijuana growers.

Seven Sacramento and Bay Area residents are among 18 people charged in federal court in Virginia for allegedly participating in a nationwide distribution ring smuggling high-quality marijuana from Northern California to mid-level dealers in numerous states throughout the county.

After coordinated arrests Thursday, 17 of the alleged conspirators are in custody, according to a new release issued by Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Officials said Marvin Powers Jr., 39, of Vallejo, remains at large.

According to court documents, the ring is led by Anthony Guidry Sr., 46, of Vallejo, who allegedly trained and worked with three other men as interconnected wholesale dealers of marijuana that they either grew or purchased in California. From 2005 to the present, the conspirators allegedly took orders for various marijuana strains and shipped quantities to suppliers in a dozen states.

A South Lake Tahoe man was arrested early this morning after a standoff that lasted more than six hours, police said.

Stephen Shaver, 44, was taken into custody outside his residence around 1:30 a.m., according to a South Lake Tahoe Police Department press release. No one was injured, and no shots were fired.

A fight between two Redding brothers ended in an arrest and a hospitalization Monday evening.

Redding police arrested Joseph Kenney, 18, on suspicion of beating his brother Garrett, 20, in what police say was a dispute over medical marijuana. The fight occurred on Southgate Drive in Redding's Westwood Village neighborhood.

Two Nevada City residents were indicted today for interstate marijuana trafficking.

A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Patricia Jane Albright, 59, and her son Jordan Robert Wirtz, 24, charging them in a conspiracy to cultivate marijuana and structure financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, according to a U.S. Justice Department news release.

In January 2010, law enforcement officers identified Albright as a marijuana grower, according to court documents.

UC Davis officials announced today that Whole Earth Festival's DJ Stage will be shut down beginning next year, citing the campus Police department's investigations of three violent crimes, including the reported rape of a 16-year-old girl, in and around the music venue last weekend.

Police also are investigating reports of two other incidents, a sexual battery and a beating, in the DJ Stage area, which was set up west of Wellman Hall, away from the Quad where most of the festival took place.

"We are sending message that people cannot come to our campus and behave this way," Fred Wood, vice chancellor for student affairs, said in a written statement. "It can't continue and it won't be tolerated. We need to create a safe environment for everyone at this university.

Sacramento firefighters responding to a house fire in south Sacramento on Monday night discovered a marijuana grow in the house, a Sacramento Fire Department spokesman said.

Fire crews found "a couple hundred plants at least" in the bedrooms and a bathroom of the two-story house in the 6700 block of Cunningham Way, said fire department spokesman Capt. Jon Burgess.

Sacramento police are trying to determine whether or not the grow is legal, Burgess said.

The California Highway Patrol said a traffic stop on a speeding driver on Highway 50 turned up marijuana, hashish, cash and scales last night.

A CHP officer said he was driving the speed limit westbound on Highway 50 in West Sacramento about 9:30 p.m. when a vehicle came up from behind doing 85 mph. The officer made a traffic stop on the car and immediately got a whiff of what he believed was marijuana.

When the officer asked if the motorist had marijuana, he denied it. Not convinced, the officer searched the car.

According to a news release the officer found about two pounds of marijuana, 17 grams of hashish, $2,360 and a digital scale.

The officer then arrested the driver, Richard Michael Lombardi, 27, of San Pablo on suspicion of drug possession and possession of drugs for sale charges, according to the CHP.

isleton_2.jpgIsleton city officials wait to be summoned before a Sacramento Superior Court grand jury on Wednesday. (Photo by Hector Amezcua)

By Sam Stanton

The entire city officialdom of Isleton marched into the Sacramento Superior Court house this morning, summoned before a grand jury probing city plans to allow a massive marijuana farm to be built there.

Council members, the police chief, the city manager, planning officials and others all huddled on the first floor of the courthouse waiting to be summoned before a closed session of the grand jury.

All of them except Police Chief Rick Sullivan are expected to invoke their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Elk Grove police have arrested two men in connection with an illegal marijuana grow discovered in a house in the 9000 block of Old Creek Drive, a police spokesman said.

At about 10 a.m. Thursday, Elk Grove police officers searched the house and found about 200 marijuana plants, processed marijuana and back rooms constructed with lighting and equipment to facilitate growing, said Elk Grove police spokesman Officer Chris Trim.

Detectives had "developed information through investigative efforts that marijuana growing was taking place at this location," Trim said.

Joe Luu, 30, bottom left, and his brother Wilson Luu, 21, bottom right, were arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of possession and cultivation of marijuana, Elk Grove police reported.

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The name of the man killed in a bloody knifing outside a pot dispensary in South Sacramento on Wednesday has been released this morning by the Sacramento County Coroner.

The man was identified as Jesus A. Galvan-Mendoza, 24, of Sacramento.

Galvan-Mendoza was one of three victims stabbed outside the R&R Wellness Center on Quinta Court near Stockton Boulevard. Two of the victims went by private vehicle to a local hospital, including Galvan-Mendoza, who was pronounced dead at 12:04 p.m.

photo[1].JPGBy Carlos Alcalá

Sacramento police now believe a stabbing outside a medical marijuana dispensary this morning may have been gang-related, said Sgt. Norm Leong, police spokesman.

Rival groups may have run into each other in the dispensary and then got into a fight outside.

Police said several people were stabbed, one fatally, outside a medicinal marijuana dispensary on Quinta Court near Stockton Boulevard in south Sacramento at about 11:45 a.m. today.

A former Mexican attorney general from Baja California said today that legalization of marijuana in California would curb pot-related violence in Mexico but would do little to stop the overall killings and corruption of Mexican drug cartels.

Antonio Martinez, who served as attorney general for Northern Baja California from 2001 to 2007, told a McGeorge School of Law symposium on marijuana and legal issues, that sanctioning marijuana use in California would force cartel to increase other forms of drug trafficking.

"They still will be in the black market," Martinez said of Mexican drug networks. "And those individuals will shift into other sectors of organized crime. They will kidnap. They will steal ... They will go into cocaine, firearms and other things. For that merchandise (marijuana), violence will go down. But that doesn't mean it will stop."

By Sam Stanton

The Sacramento County grand jury and District Attorney Jan Scully have launched a probe of plans by Isleton to allow a massive medical marijuana growing operation to open in the small Delta town, The Bee has learned.

Isleton officials - from the city council to the police chief - were served with subpoenas issued Wednesday night and have been told to appear before the grand jury as witnesses starting April 27.

The officials said they know little about the investigation other than it is apparently aimed at the city's deal with Delta Allied Growers, which plans to open a 4,000-square-foot cannabis growing operation in Isleton and has agreed to pay 3 percent of its proceeds - or at least $25,000 a month - to city coffers.

By Andy Furillo

A witness told a Sacramento jury today about the terrifying moments leading up to a teenager's shooting death five years ago during an attempted Land Park pot robbery.

Jeremy Humphries, 25, said two intruders first tried to rob him of money and marijuana in the early morning hours of Jan. 3, 2006, at his house on 18th Avenue. Humphries said that after one of them pistol whipped him and threatened to kill him if he didn't come up with more loot or dope, he led the two to his friend James Ramirez' house on Francis Court in Land Park.

At Ramirez' house, Humphries said the gunman held a pistol to his head on the drive to Francis Court. He testified the gunman forced him out of the car and up to Ramirez' window. The witness said Ramirez then went to open the front door.

By Bee Staff

An El Dorado County marijuana grower who was convicted of the attempted murders of his brother-in-law and his nephew has lost his bid for a parole, the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office said.

A state Parole Board panel ruled Tuesday that Silvestre Gonzalez, now 49, could not apply for another parole for 10 years, said Deputy District Attorney Jamie Verwayen, who appeared at the hearing on behalf of the DA's Office and the victims' family.

The victims had innocently wandered near Silvestre Gonzalez' pot grow and a guard shot them.

By Andy Furillo

The prosecutor outlined his case today against three men who are on trial for murder in the front-door shooting death five years ago of a reputed 18-year-old marijuana dealer in Land Park.

Deputy District Attorney Sean Laird said the Jan, 3, 2006, killing of James Ramirez was the third violent home invasion robbery that defendants Alex Brown, 33, David "Jake" Carrera, 33, and Terry Alexander, 25, had carried out in about a week.

In the hours before the shooting of Ramirez, the three defendants robbed two brothers at their nearby residence on 18th Avenue. One of the victims then led the defendants who were on the hunt for "pounds and racks" - marijuana and money - to the Ramirez residence at his parents home in the 4500 block of Francis Court, according to Laird.

By Bill Enfield

An El Dorado County marijuana grower who was convicted of the attempted murders of his brother-in-law and his nephew is due a parole hearing. The victims had innocently wandered near Silvestre Gonzalez' pot grow and a guard shot them.

Gonzalez, now 49, was convicted of two counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms, plus an additional year for each term, The Bee reported.

Gonzalez armed a 78-year-old laborer, Luis Lopez Arriaga, and told him to shoot anyone who came near Gonzalez' marijuana garden.

By Carlos Alcala

Sacramento fire crews putting out a fire in one unit of a southeast neighborhood duplex discovered marijuana growing in the second unit.

Police responded to the 6400 block of Cougar Drive shortly before 1 p.m. Friday to investigate and were there when the unit's occupant arrived, the Sacramento Police Department activity log shows.

The occupants, however, provided proper paperwork for marijuana cultivation, police reported.

Instead of arresting the growers, officers left and notified code enforcement to look into what they believed to be improper wiring used to supply power.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcala, (916) 321-1987.

By Cathy Locke

A Bay Area man has been convicted by a federal jury in Sacramento of conspiracy to grow marijuana and carrying a firearm in a drug trafficking offense.

The guilty verdict against Patricio Garcia Reyes, also known as Augustin Vasquez Garcia, 47, was returned Tuesday after a two-day trial before U.S. District judge Kimberly J. Mueller.

According to testimony presented at trial, Garcia Reyes was arrested Aug. 11, 2010, as he watered plants in a grow site with more than 5,000 plants in a remote area of the National Forest in Alpine County.

By Diana Lambert

School bake sales are taking on new meaning.

In recent weeks, students in Sacramento and across the country have become ill from eating marijuana-laced brownies they got at school. Here's the tally from a recent 8-day period:

By Diana Lambert

Three Elk Grove Unified high school students in the last two days have reported becoming sick after eating marijuana-laced brownies.

About 2 p.m. today, two ninth-grade students from Monterey Trail High School in Elk Grove went to the school office and told staff they were feeling ill, said Elizabeth Graswich, spokeswoman for the Elk Grove Unified School District. The boys said another student gave them marijuana-laced brownies, she said.

The boys were taken to an area hospital after they began to vomit, Graswich said. She said they are still at the hospital being evaluated.

By Cathy Locke

Two residences and a vehicle in Rancho Cordova neighborhood were struck by bullets Tuesday afternoon during an attempted marijuana sale, according to a crime summary released today.

The summary released by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, which provides police services for Rancho Cordova under a contract, gave this sequence of events:

Three young men in a vehicle approached three young men who were on bicycles shortly before 1:30 p.m. in the 1500 block of Klamath River Drive.

drug test pic for press release (2).jpgBy Bill Lindelof

Placer County parents can buy drug and alcohol screening tests (left) at a cut-rate price as part of an effort by the deputy sheriff's union to stem substance abuse.

The tests are available at local high schools and sheriff's offices. The 10-panel drug tests cost $10, a discounted price compared to $40 at some pharmacies. Alcohol screening tests are $2.

Drug tests will give results for the use of amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, opiates, PCP, marijuana, ecstasy, methadone, barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

By Rick Daysog

Violent crime didn't take the day off on Christmas Eve.

Shortly after noontime, Sacramento police officers came to the aid of a motorist near 3rd and J streets who said his nephew who was a passenger had been shot.

Police said they found a large amount of marijuana in the car but the driver said he had a prescription for medical marijuana. The victim had non-life threatening injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital.

At 1:40 p.m., police responded to an attempted robbery at a gasoline station at the 1100 block of 43rd Avenue. A motorist said he was sitting in his car while filling up when two suspects allegedly demanded money by putting what he thought was a gun to his neck. The victim said he drove off without money being taken.

Police also were called to investigate a possible drug lab at an apartment complex at the 1600 block of Kathleen Avenue at 10 p.m. Friday. Police and fire officials didn't find a lab but discovered a small amount of crystal methamphetamine and two loaded guns.

One suspect fled the scene but was apprehended while another struggled with officers before he was taken into custody. A third suspect was taken into custody without incident.

Call The Bee's Rick Daysog, (916) 321-1207.

By Ed Fletcher

A 51-year-old Rocklin man arrested with four pounds of marijuana in his pickup truck last month was sentenced to six months in Placer County jail.

Brian Kirk will also receive three years of probation, according to a press release from the Placer County prosecutor's office.

Kirk entered a guilty plea to a felony charge of illegally transporting marijuana. He was initially stopped for a moving violation on the night of Nov. 7. At that time he was issued a citation for driving with a suspended license and instructed to leave the vehicle. Kirk left the truck, but returned a short time later where upon he was arrested for driving without a license.

A search of the vehicle yielded a suitcase with glass jars filled with marijuana, officials said.

During sentencing, Kirk was instructed by Superior Court Judge Colleen Nichols that he could continue to use marijuana for medial condition, but she instructed him to not drive while under the influence.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.

By Carlos Alcalá

A Placerville man was shot in the course of a marijuana deal Friday, Folsom police reported.

Police became aware of the incident around 10 p.m. after responding to a report of a car idling in the road at the intersection of Serpa Way and Fetter Court in Folsom, according to a release from Sgt. Jason Browning.

Police reported they found blood on the trunk of the car and could smell a heavy odor of burning marijuana coming from inside.

They found the vehicle's 21-year-old owner in a nearby hospital, being treated for a single gunshot to the abdomen. It was believed not to be life threatening.

The shooting victim said he'd been shot by a prospective customer he knew as Tony from Elk Grove. The suspect was described as a Hispanic male, 5 foot 10 inches tall and about 165 pounds. He was wearing a red-and-black checked jacket.

Police are investigating the incident as a robbery and attempted homicide. No information was released on the victim's identity. He is not currently facing any charges.

Anyone with information is asked to call the tip line at (916) 585-4110.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcalá, (916) 321-1987.

By Loretta Kalb

A routine police stop for a traffic violation netted a driver's arrest and the confiscation of 4.25 pounds of marijuana shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, Rocklin police said today.

Police said that a veteran Rocklin officer stopped a pickup truck following a traffic violation and issued the driver, Brian Kirk, a notice advising that his driver's license was suspended.

Kirk was asked to leave the vehicle and not to drive. The officer then arranged for help monitoring the site to ensure Kirk did not resume driving.

Soon after, Kirk climbed into the truck and drove away, police said.

The second time police stopped Kirk, he was arrested for driving on a suspended license.

A vehicle search yielded a suitcase and glass jars full of marijuana, or about 4.25 pounds of the weed, police said.

Kirk was booked in the Placer County Jail for investigation of marijuana transportation and possession.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

By Bill Lindelof

A medicinal marijuana seller in Sacramento thinks his business may have been burglarized this morning because of opposition to the recently failed Proposition 19.

Don Johnson, director of the Unity Non Profit Collective, 1832 Tribute Road, said that about 3:20 a.m. two men smashed the front window of the business near Cal Expo.

The thieves made off with $2,500 in marijuana products and $1,500 in donations and toys meant for the Sacramento Food bank.

The intruders entered the dispensary area by coming in through the ceiling from another part of the business.

The business has video tape of the burglars and their vehicle. Sacramento police will review the video, Johnson said.

Johnson thinks he knows why Unity was targeted:

"I have my suspicions," he said. "There is a list on the web calling for people to boycott businesses that were against Proposition 19 and to cause harm to them. Coincidentally, our name found its way onto that list just yesterday."

Johnson said some of the damage done by the burglars was not simply done in the course of a break-in. He called it vindictive vandalism.

"The stealing of our signs, the smashing of our business license, the pulling down of stuff from the walls," he said. "If you are here to rob something, you are not going to take the time to pull things off walls or smash my business license. You are going to be worried about stealing and leaving."

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

By Chelsea Phua

Sacramento police on Thursday arrested a man who allegedly pulled out a gun at another man in a drug deal gone bad.

Police did not name the suspect Thursday night.

Sgt. Norm Leong said the victim, who had a medicinal card for marijuana use, had arranged to buy the drug through an online marijuana "brokerage" site because it was cheaper than buying from a dispensary.

The victim made the arrangement through a person he thought was associated with a legitimate dispensary.

But when the victim arrived shortly before 5 p.m. at the parking lot of Fry's electronic store at Northgate Boulevard near Interstate 80 and got into the suspect's car, the suspect pulled out a gun and tried to rob the victim of his money.

The victim fought back, causing the suspect to hit the car's accelerator. The car crashed into an embankment and burst into flames. The suspect ran off, but police later found him on the other side of the highway at a motel, Leong said.

The victim escaped unhurt, Leong said.


Photo credit: Photo of suspect's car released by the Sacramento Police Department.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

By Bee Staff

An industrial-size toilet would be needed to flush the amount of marijuana that Sacramento sheriff's deputies said they found beside an apartment's commode, according to crime summaries released this week.

The summary outlines this series of events:

At about 12:30 p.m. Oct. 9, deputies had just made a warrant arrest in the 4400 block of Oakhollow Drive. One of the deputies went to the arrested subject's apartment to place some of his property inside.

The apartment door was unlocked. The deputy opened the door and announced "Sheriff's Department." He immediately smelled the strong odor of fresh marijuana.

But before he could step inside, the occupants slammed the door shut and locked it.

The deputies feared the drug was being flushed down the toilet, but they managed to locate a key and open the door.

Inside, they found a box in front of the toilet containing three one-gallon bags of "greed buds believed to be marijuana."

They also found a man and woman inside the apartment.

Frederick Reed, 38, was booked into jail on suspicion of four felonies related to drug possession and sales. He also is being held on no bail for alleged parole violation, jail records show.

The woman was arrested but later released.

By Cathy Locke

A federal grand jury in Sacramento returned three indictments today charging five individuals with manufacturing and conspiring to manufacture marijuana in Nevada County.

This follows a separate indictment, returned July 29, arising form the same operation charging eight other defendants with manufacturing and conspiring to manufacture marijuana, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

All four indictments are part of Operation Cash Crop, a joint operation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies targeting major marijuana traffickers in Nevada County and neighboring areas.

Charged today were Scott Blake Miller, 31, of Grass Valley; Michael James Taylor, 47, of Bali, Indonesia; and Damien Michael Baranowski, 37, Kawika Mark Medeiros, 27, and Christian Carlson, 25, all of Nevada City.

According to court documents, during execution of 16 search warrants in three counties, law enforcement agents seized more than 4,100 marijuana plants, more than 200 pounds of processed marijuana and several firearms. A number of defendants were armed at the time of their arrest, and several of the individuals have prior felony convictions for narcotics offenses, officials said.

Carlson was arrested in a marijuana grow with a firearm while on pre-trial release from an earlier arrest. He currently faces charges for manufacturing marijuana in Southern California in 2009, the news release said.

Documents found at a number of the search locations show hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial transactions, and interstate shipment of cash and narcotics, officials said.

The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency; California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement; and the Nevada County, Placer County and El Dorado County sheriff's departments. The joint investigations focused on both illegal narcotics transactions and illegal financial transactions.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Q: What was the outcome of Vivian Hoang's trial for conspiracy and pot cultivation in Elk Grove? - Bill, Sparks, Nev.

Vivian HOANG x4235672[1].jpgA: Hoang, now 37, pleaded no contest on May 7 to one felony count of possession of more than $100,000 obtained from drug transactions, court records show. (Photo left is from 2007.)

She was sentenced to five years probation and 246 hours in custody. The 246 hours in custody was later converted to 246 hours of community service.

As reported in The Bee on Sept. 21, 2007, Hoang was one of 15 people arrested two days earlier as Elk Grove police, in a 14-hour operation, raided 21 homes in Elk Grove, Sacramento and Galt.

Records showed Hoang, a real estate agent, was listed as owner of two of the homes.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

By Cathy Locke

A Placerville attorney has become the 15th person sentenced in a major federal drug enforcement case.

Lawrence Edward Weitzman, 66, will serve 27 months in federal prison for his role in laundering $2.96 million in drug proceeds for four-time convicted drug trafficker Gregory Sperow, 58, of Los Angeles, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Idaho.

Weitzman, a practicing attorney in Placerville, was sentenced Aug. 31 by Chief District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill. The court also imposed a $25,000 fine in addition to asset forfeitures totaling $175,000.

"Weitzman's sentencing marks the end of one of the most significant drug investigations and prosecutions in the history of Idaho's U.S. Attorney's Office," Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, said in a written statement.

Officials said Weitzman was the 15th defendant sentenced in a multiyear prosecution of the Kent Jones organization, which had been identified as a regional priority target by the Federal Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force in Idaho. The investigation resulted in a series of indictments against defendants who operated throughout the United States importing drugs from Mexico to Southern California. The drugs then were typically transported to the Portland, Ore., area before being shipped to Idaho, Washington and other areas including Colorado, Ohio, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey and New York. In addition to importing and transporting marijuana, the group was heavily involved in growing marijuana in Oregon in the 1990s, both indoors and on public lands, according to the news release.

The original indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Boise, Idaho, in June 2006. Weitzman was added as a defendant in a superseding indictment filed in January 2007. On Sept. 22, 2008, Weitzman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and structure transactions, with an agreement to forfeit $175,000.

The investigation was handled by the District of Idaho because it stemmed from the case of a major drug trafficker, Leland Lang of Stites, Idaho, who was successfully prosecuted in Idaho in 2002. The Jones organization supplied Lang with large quantities of drugs that were distributed in Idaho and various Midwest and Eastern states. More than $1 million in currency was seized from Lang's mountaintop residence in Stites in 2002, officials reported.

Following the indictment of Lang and other co-conspirators in Kentucky, the investigation led to the Jones organization, which originated with a group of high school friends from Days Creek, Ore. The group's activities initially involved growing and selling marijuana, officials said, but later expanded to include smuggling large quantities of drugs from Mexico and Colombia.

Weitzman's association with the group was largely through co-defendants Sperow and Dale Barker of Evergreen, Colo., officials said. Since the 1970s, Sperow has served stints in federal prison for smuggling marijuana into the United States from Mexico and South America, as well as involvement in a large-scale methamphetamine manufacturing operation in Southern California.

From January 1996 to May 2004 Sperow was a fugitive living under several assumed names while he continued drug trafficking, according to the Department of Justice. Through Weitzman's help, officials said, Sperow continued to launder millions of dollars in drug proceeds.

Sperow was apprehended in the Bay Area community of Orinda in May 2004.

Weitzman's sentencing followed five days of testimony. In its ruling, the District Court found that "the evidence was overwhelming" that Weitzman either knew, or became willfully blind regarding the illegal source of Sperow's funds by 1996, that Weitzman continued to launder Sperow's drug funds for the eight years that Sperow was a fugitive, and that Weitzman laundered Sperow's proceeds even after Sperow was sent to federal prison for the fourth time in 2005.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Bill Lindelof

A state Fish and Game warden looking for deer poachers instead recently arrested three men with marijuana estimated to be worth $40,000.

The warden, Michael Beals, saw a pickup driving out of the Mendocino National Forest in Glenn County with its truck bed covered with drywall boarding.

Beals also noted that the chunks of the drywall was flying out of the truck bed, littering the highway.

He stopped the truck and lifted the drywall to find a large bag filled with dried marijuana. Beals arrested the driver and three occupants of the vehicle.

A later investigation revealed that two of the men in the truck had been working in an illegal marijuana garden hidden in the national forest. Recently, a law enforcement marijuana eradication helicopter had flown over the garden, prompting the two men to run away with the 40-pound bag of marijuana, according to a Fish and Game press release.

Fish and Game authorities believe the two men then contacted the other two men in the truck. The four were headed home with the pot when they were intercepted by warden Beals, according to state officials.

The four were booked into Glenn County Jail on suspicion of drug-trafficking.

Marijuana growing operations on public land divert water, and use pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, some of which are illegal. The growers also kill animals that eat their crops and the operators of such gardens pose a threat to innocent hikers who stumble upon the illegal operations, officials said.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

By Bill Lindelof

A Sacramento man fired four shots at home invaders apparently trying to get his medicinal marijuana, Sacramento police said.

The intruders fired at the man in return, but didn't hit the resident, police said. There was no evidence that the home invaders were hit either, police said.

A police summary of the event stated that the man was inside his Oak Park home about 11 p.m. Monday when he heard someone trying to kick in his back door.

The resident armed himself with a shotgun from his bedroom and walked toward the back door as it was forced open.

The resident pointed the shotgun out the door toward the intruders, firing four rounds.

The home invaders returned fire and then fled through the backyard.

Police learned that the man had a medicinal marijuana card and was growing plants inside his home.

Police believe the intruders were after the marijuana.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

By Bill Lindelof

Two liquor store clerks have been arrested on suspicion of selling more than booze.

Mandpreet Singh Ghuane and Geoffrey Scott Maciel were arrested on suspicion of selling and possessing marijuana. The men were arrested at the Bottle Shop, 45 Main St., in Jackson, Amador County, last week.

State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control investigators went undercover in recent months to develop information that led to the arrests, according to a department press release. Investigators allege they were able to make purchases of marijuana from the employees at the liquor store several times.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Q: What happened to Louis Fowler, who embezzled $5 million from the state and later was caught growing a large amount of marijuana? - Anonymous, Sacramento

A: Fowler, now 55, of Sacramento, is a fugitive after failing to appear before a federal judge in December 2007, according to court records and Bee reports.

fowler[1].JPGFowler (photo left), who had been operating a Folsom Boulevard medical marijuana dispensary until he was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents in 2005, failed to show up Dec. 21, 2007, for a change-of-plea hearing in federal court.

U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia revoked the $250,000 bail secured by a Rio Linda residence owned by Fowler's mother, where he had been living under house arrest.

The judge also ordered that a no-bail warrant be issued for Fowler's arrest.

Fowler was scheduled to plead guilty to cultivating at least 1,000 marijuana plants and carrying a firearm in connection with drug trafficking.

He faced a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison on the cultivation charge.

Fowler served seven years in state prison in the 1990s for embezzling $5.1 million from the State Water Resources Control Board, where he worked as an entry-level accountant from 1982 to 1985.

Most of the money has never been recovered.

With his embezzling crime not yet detected, he departed for Arizona, where he lived under the name of William Rice, a Sacramento man who died after being electrocuted on July 6, 1985.

Fowler operated two video rental stores in Arizona and lived the life of a big spender, investigators said.

Authorities caught up with him in 1989, and he was extradited to Sacramento.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

By Chelsea Phua

A federal grand jury in Sacramento indicted 10 people in four separate cases of marijuana growth operations on public land, according to a Thursday news release by United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner's office.

Authorities said the defendants operated large marijuana grows in three different counties. In all, agents found more than 36,000 plants being cultivated by the defendants.

More than 3,000 marijuana plants, each about 5 feet tall, were found on Bureau of Land Management lands south of Cache Creek in Yolo County in early August. Agents raided the marijuana gardens, many of which were connected by a common irrigation system, and arrested four Mexican nationals. They are Leodegario Gomez Juarez, 26; Jose Ivan Solorio, 24; Rodolfo Ochoa Aburto, 30; and Albaro Ochoa Aburto, 28.

Agents said they found Solorio, Rodolfo Ochoa Aburto, and Juarez with four loaded firearms inside a tent near the trail. Agents had to cut open the tent. Albaro Ochoa Aburto was in a different part of the garden. He tried to flee but was caught, authorities said.

More than 21,000 plants were eradicated and 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana were seized when authorities arrested Maximiano Gonzalez Almanzar, 58, for allegedly cultivating the plants in the Lassen National Forest.

In Plumas National Forest, law enforcement officers eradicated more than 5,000 plants and arrested Francisco Arellano-Rodriguez, 27, of San Jose. The indictment alleges that Arellano-Rodriguez cultivated at least 1,000 plants.

Agents seized a grow operation in the Rumsey Canyon area of Yolo County in July. The four people agents say are responsible were caught fleeing a central campsite surrounded by about 7,600 plants. Agents also found 29 pound of processed marijuana and about 60 pounds hanging from ropes to drive.

Authorities arrested Leonel Favela, 24; Justino Santos; 18, Benito Santos: 25, and Julian Gutierrez, 24; all Mexican nationals.

If convicted of the charges, all the defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

By Matt Kawahara

A federal grand jury in Sacramento returned a one-count indictment Thursday charging Jose Pelayo, 35, and Nemesio Reyna Ortega, 19, with cultivating 1,000 or more marijuana plants, the U.S. Attorney's Office reported today.

The indictment alleges that Pelayo and Ortega were growing marijuana on federal land in Tehama County on August 6, 2010, according to a news release.

The case is the result of a joint investigation by the United States Forest Service, Tehama County Sheriff's Office and California Department of Fish and Game.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

By Cathy Locke

A federal grand jury in Sacramento has returned an indictment charging Gustavo Rivera Martinez, 20, with manufacturing more than 1,000 marijuana plants.

The one-count indictment alleges that Martinez was responsible for an illegal marijuana grow discovered earlier this month on land in Tehama County, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

The case resulted from a joint investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, Tehama County Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Fish and Game.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police said armed robbers entered a home last night in midtown, making off with medicinal marijuana and electronic items.

The home invasion occurred at about 11 p.m. at a home in the 2600 block of T Street.

Three suspects entered the house where there was medicinal marijuana both growing and in dried amounts, police said. They entered as a friend of the resident was about to go into the house.

Police surrounded the residence. However, the robbers had already escaped.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

RP WAREHOUSE FIRE[1].JPG Sacramento police and fire officials investigate the discovery of a legal marijuana growing operation today inside a fire-damaged north Sacramento warehouse. Bee photo by Randy Pench.

By Bill Lindelof and Peter Hecht

A legal marijuana-growing operation was damaged after the Sacramento warehouse where it was housed caught fire early this morning, according to a lawyer for the grower.

The warehouse grows marijuana for Unity Non-Profit Collective, a Sacramento dispensary that has a registered network of about 3,000 medical marijuana users, according to a spokesman for the collective.

Sacramento police said the operation is legal.

"We were given a clean bill of health," said George Mull, Unity's attorney. "It's not considered a crime scene, and we're moving on."

Firefighters were called to the warehouse by a report of the strong odor of something burning in the vicinity of warehouses near Del Paso Boulevard and Railroad Drive at 5:13 a.m.

When crews arrived eight minutes later to 1900 Railroad Drive they reported heavy black smoke billowing from metal roll-up doors on the concrete-sided warehouse.

A second alarm was sounded as crews cut open doors to get at the fire.

Using thermal imaging cameras, firefighters were able to peer through the thick smoke to locate and extinguish the fire.

When the smoke cleared, firefighters found marijuana plants at several spots growing inside the building, a department spokesman said.

Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said that about 200 plants in various stages of growth were found in the warehouse. Three or four rooms had been converted for the purpose of growing.

Chemicals to help grow the marijuana and electrical equipment to power indoor grow lights also were found.

Authorities also found 15 18-gallon plastic containers of dried marijuana.

Several hours after the fire, several people approached officers and told them that the marijuana was part of a collective growing the plants for medicinal purposes.

By Cathy Locke

A federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging two men with manufacturing more than 1,000 marijuana plants on federal land in Yolo County.

Jose Andres Prieto Rodriguez, 30, and Jose Rodrigo Rodriguez Vidal, 19, both citizens of Mexico, are accused of being responsible for an illegal marijuana growing operation on land under the jurisdiction of the federal Bureau of Land Management, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

If convicted, the men face a maximum of 10 years to life in prison, a $4 million fine and five years of supervised release.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Barbara Barte Osborn
Bee Correspondent

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.

TAKEN BY CLINT BATES (55).jpgThe 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.

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento firefighters discovered more than 200 marijuana plants growing in three rooms of a south Sacramento house after they extinguished a fire there Sunday night.

The fire was in a home on the 5900 block of Sawyer Circle near Franklin Boulevard and Calvine Road.

The fire appears to have been the result of an illegally bypassed utility meter, said Sacramento police, who placed responsibility on the home's occupants.

Bypassing house meters has been discovered in other indoor pot-growing operations. It is done so the high energy consumption of grow lamps is not revealed on utility bills.

Police have not identified suspects.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

KCRA: Fire reveals indoor pot farm

By Cathy Locke

Residences in Elk Grove and the Sacramento area were among those searched by federal agents and police Wednesday in the culmination of a large-scale indoor marijuana grow investigation.

The investigation began in the Elk Grove area and led law enforcement to the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a federal Drug Enforcement Administration news release.

The enforcement operation resulted in the service of 15 federal search warrants, the arrest of nine individuals and seizure of seven indoor marijuana growing operations and nearly 2,500 marijuana plants.

Officials said the indoor grows had the capacity to produce more than one ton of marijuana annually with an estimated street value of nearly $10 million.

The Elk Grove Police Department began the investigation and requested assistance from the DEA Sacramento District Office, Immigration Customs Enforcement and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division.

On Wednesday, search warrants were served at residences in Elk Grove, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Milpitas.

In Elk Grove, authorities seized 1,097 marijuana plants at a residence in the 9200 block of Balboa Park Way and 298 plants at a residence in the 9200 block of Starfish Way.

In addition, 98 marijuana plants were seized at a residence in the 7100 block of Lawnwood Drive in South Sacramento and 109 plants at a residence in the 8600 block of German Drive in the Florin area.

Agents also concluded that power theft was occurring at the residences.

Arrested Wednesday were Hung Ngoc Pham, 28, Cuong Thoi Long, 54, and Phuong Pham, 35, all of Sacramento; Nhung Thi Vu, 51, of San Francisco; Diep Hoang Vu, 38, Chien Minh Le, 41, and Thuy Thi Tran, 51, all of Oakland; Quoc Bui Long, 44, of San Jose; and Tuan Chu, 28, whose city of residence was not known, the release states.

All made their initial appearance in federal court in Sacramento today.

All the individuals face charges of conspiracy to manufacture at least 1,000 marijuana plants, manufacturing marijuana and knowingly maintaining a place for manufacturing.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Q: Was the murder of James Ramirez ever solved? - Concerned Citizen, Sacramento

A: Sacramento police officers announced in April 2009 that they arrested three men for the 2006 killing of the 18-year-old Ramirez.

The three suspects - 23-year-old Terry Alexander, 31-year-old Alex Brown and 31-year-old David Carrera - already were in custody at the Sacramento County Main Jail on unrelated charges, police said.

All are facing murder charges. Their next court date is in August.

Ramirez, who had recently graduated from McClatchy High School at the time of his death, was fatally shot at the front door of his South Land Park home on Jan. 3, 2006.

Before the shooting, the suspects kidnapped two brothers from their home near the intersection of 18th Avenue and 21st Street and drove them to Ramirez's home in the 4500 block of Francis Court, according to police.

The brothers were close friends of Ramirez's, police said at the time.

One of the kidnapped brothers summoned Ramirez to the door, where he was killed. One of the brothers was left at the home with Ramirez, and the other was dropped off in the 2100 block of 15th Avenue, according to police.

Following the arrests, police did not release any details regarding possible motivation.

All three suspects have criminal records in Sacramento County, according to court records.

Those records show the three men were in custody in connection with their most recent alleged crimes: a 2006 case in which they each face three charges of robbery, three charges of assault with a deadly weapon, six charges of oral copulation and three charges of penetration by a foreign object.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

By Cathy Locke

An Oroville man has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for drug trafficking crimes, including an incident in which he dressed up as a law-enforcement officer.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton on Tuesday sentenced Eric Keith Sills to 10 years and 10 months in prison for drug trafficking and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. Sills pleaded guilty on Feb. 2.

According to court documents, Sills and three other men dressed up as law enforcement officers to rob a marijuana growing operation in Butte County. The men, armed with shotguns and semiautomatic pistols, detained a man guarding the site at gunpoint.

Law enforcement officers later searched Sills' house and found more than 120 pounds of processed marijuana, a MAC-10 machine pistol, a .357 revolver, a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun, a Panther stun gun, police badges, gun cases, shirts with Sheriff's or police insignia, night vision goggles, two sets of handcuffs, body armor and a radio on a tactical police sling.

The cases resulted from a joint investigation by the Butte County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Robert D. Dávila

Two people wanted on suspicion of using a Virginia state senator's stolen credit card information to buy medical marijuana in Sacramento have been arrested.

Bernell Bryan Washington (photo bottom left), 24, and Sky Manriquez (photo bottom right), 20, were charged in arrest warrants with identity theft. Washington also was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person.

Virginia state police contacted the California Highway Patrol in March with information that the Virginia lawmaker's personal information was being used in Sacramento.

The CHP notified the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force, which investigated the case.

Washington and Manriquez used the lawmaker's personal information to open or take over multiple credit accounts in his name, according to a Sacramento County Sheriff's Department news release.

Investigators serving a search warrant at a Fulton Avenue address used by the pair found receipts indicating they had used the fake accounts to buy medical marijuana, officials said.

Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077.

clip_image002.jpgbernell.jpg clip_image002.jpgsky.jpg

By Bill Lindelof

A judge has denied a temporary restraining order sought by the City of Galt against a medical marijuana dispensary.

The City Council passed an ordinance last year prohibiting medical marijuana facilities. But last week the Galt Wellness Center marijuana dispensary opened at 520 Lincoln Way.

On Tuesday, the city filed for a temporary restraining order in Sacramento Superior Court, seeking the court's order for the shop to close.

City Manger Jason Behrmann said in an e-mail to The Bee that the judge noted that the issues are complicated and that the matter would be reconsidered in a few weeks.

"We are proceeding with this next step but a hearing date has not yet been set," he stated.

The council enacted the local law for public safety reasons, citing robberies at dispensaries in other cities.

However, Sacramento lawyer George Mull, lawyer for the dispensary, said the Galt law is unconstitutional and goes against Proposition 215, the medical marijuana law passed by voters in 1996.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Previous coverage:

Galt seeks shutdown of medical pot dispensary - May 26, 2010

By Bill Lindelof

Two men have been arraigned in Yolo Superior Court on suspicion of growing marijuana and possessing a loaded rifle.

The men, Jose Prieto Rodriguez, 30, and Jose Rodriguez, 18, were arraigned Monday. They were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of maintaining a large marijuana growing operation near the town of Rumsey.

Both were booked into the Yolo County Jail. Both men have "immigration holds" on them from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 7 in Yolo County Superior Court.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

By Bill Lindelof

Galt has filed for a temporary restraining order to close a medical marijuana dispensary that opened in the city last week.

The Galt City Council passed an ordinance last year prohibiting medical marijuana facilities. But last week an operation called the Galt Wellness Center set up shop at 520 Lincoln Way.

"They didn't notify the city until they actually opened up," said, said City Manager Jason Behrmann. "We gave them a copy of the ordinance and they didn't have much comment other then to say they were going to continue to operate and we would have to force them out."

On Tuesday the city filed in Sacramento Superior Court seeking a temporary restraining order asking that the court force the closure of the shop.

City officials said they hope to have a hearing on whether they will be granted the temporary restraining order by the end of the week.

Behrmann said the council enacted the local law for public safety. He cited robberies of stores and patrons at California cities that allow the dispensaries to operate as a big reason for the council to opt for a ban.

He said several cities have had similar bans and that other marijuana dispensaries have tested the other municipal ordinances.

"At this point the city ordinances have been upheld," said Behrmann.

However, Sacramento lawyer George Mull, speaking for the Galt Wellness Center, said the Galt law is unconstitutional.

"It is a broader ban than most," he said. "There are many cities that have banned storefront dispensaries. But this bans any two people getting together to exchange marijuana and grow. So a husband and wife who wish to grow for themselves cannot."

Mull said the Galt law goes against Proposition 215, the medical marijuana law passed by California voters in 1996.

"Galt is seeking injunctive relief to stop someone from being there who they feel is not in compliance with their zoning," Mull said. "But what they have done is not to regulate medical marijuana, but ban it."

He said the center is needed because there is no medical marijuana dispensary between Elk Grove and Stockton.

Mull said the Galt Wellness Center will fight the request for a temporary injunction. He said the center is a non-profit collective.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

By Cathy Locke

Two men have been convicted in a marijuana growing case that involved a gun battle last year between suspects and law enforcement officers in which one suspect was killed and two Lassen County sheriff's officers were wounded.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced Friday that a federal jury convicted Jose Alfredo Zepeda, 20, of East Palo Alto, and Clemente Ferrias Arroyo, 63, of Morgan Hill, of conspiring to manufacture at least 1,000 marijuana plants, manufacturing at least 1,000 marijuana plants and possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.

The charges stem from an investigation of a large outdoor marijuana garden on federal land in northern Lassen County by two Bureau of Land Management rangers, two Lassen County sheriff's officers and a Susanville police officer.

On June 16, 2009, the officers encountered three suspected marijuana growers. Suspect Juan Carlos Herrera-Chavez engaged the officers in a gun battle using an AK-47 rifle, a Department of Justice news release states. The two sheriff's deputies were wounded, and Herrera-Chavez was killed when officers returned fire, officials said. Both Lassen County sheriff's officers survived.

Evidence presented during the trial revealed that Herrera-Chavez, his brother-in-law, Zepeda, and Arroyo started the marijuana garden in May 2009, the release says. Herrera-Chavez carried an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle, Zepeda was armed with an SKS semiautomatic rifle, and Arroyo carried a Smith & Wesson 9 mm semiautomatic pistol to protect the growing operation.

Zepeda and Arroyo are scheduled for sentencing July 20 in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. Each man faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison, a $4 million fine and five years to life of supervised release on the marijuana charges, the news release states. The charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes carries an additional mandatory consecutive five-years-to-life sentence, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Cathy Locke

Seven Sacramento-area residents were arrested this week as a result of two indoor marijuana growing investigations by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Elk Grove Police Department.

The two-day enforcement operation resulted in seizure of six indoor operations, more than 4,300 plants, approximately $82,600 in U.S. currency and one vehicle, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration news release.

In November 2009, the Elk Grove Police Department and the DEA's Sacramento District Office identified a suspected marijuana cultivator, Tac Che, 50, of Sacramento. According to the affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, law enforcement officers learned of several residences with suspected indoor marijuana grows that were linked to Che. Based on the investigation, officers believed power theft was occurring at many of the grow sites.

Agents identified five other Sacramento residents as being involved in the growing operations: Bob An, 52, Cuong Hoang, 54; Lien Truong, 49; Kenny Lu, 22; and Julia Saechao, 22.

On Tuesday, federal search warrants were served at six Sacramento locations associated with the individuals: two in the 8200 block of Cliffe Way, one of which was occupied by Bob An; 1700 block of Highbridge Way; 100 block of Stone Valley Circle, residence of Kenny Lu and Julia Saechao; 8600 block of Prairiewoods Drive, residence of Tac Che; and 7900 block of Scottsdale Drive, residence of Cuong Hoang and Lien Truong.

Marijuana plants were seized at the Highbridge Way, Stone Valley Circle and Scottsdale Drive addresses, and one of the houses on Cliffe Way. Officials also confirmed that electricity was being bypassed at the Stone Valley Circle, Highbridge Way and one of the Cliffe Way sites.

All six individuals were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to manufacture at least 1,000 marijuana plants, manufacturing marijuana and knowingly maintaining a place for manufacturing. They appeared in Sacramento Federal Court on Wednesday.

The other investigation began in December 2009, when Elk Grove police and the DEA were conducting surveillance on a suspicious residence in Sacramento, the news release said. Officials identified Vinh Hoang, 44, of Sacramento as a suspected marijuana cultivator as well as multiple residences with which they believed he was associated.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officers served federal search warrants at homes in the 9200 block of Earl Fife Drive in Elk Grove, and the 5400 block of Elderdown Way and 7800 block of 51st Ave in Sacramento. The 51st Avenue address is believed to be Hoang's residence, according to the news release.

Marijuana plants were seized at the Elderdown Way and Earl Fife Drive addresses, and agents confirmed that electricity was bypassed at both sites.

Vinh Hoang was arrested without incident at the Elderdown Way residence, officials reported.

Hoang appeared in Sacramento Federal Court on Thursday. He was charged with manufacturing at least 1,000 marijuana plants and maintaining a place to manufacture marijuana.

Law enforcement officials said they believe these indoor marijuana growing operations had the capacity to produce nearly 2 tons of marijuana annually, with an estimated street value of more than $17.9 million.

"The indoor cultivation of marijuana continues to pose a serious problem in the Sacramento region," Gordon Taylor, the DEA's assistant special agent in charge, said in the news release. "These people moved into our residential areas, set up illegal marijuana factories and endangered the lives of everyone in the neighborhood."

If convicted of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and manufacturing marijuana, the defendants face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years, a maximum prison term of life, and a fine of up to $4 million, according to the news release.

They could face a maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000 if convicted of maintaining a place to grow marijuana.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Barbara Barte Osborne
Bee correspondent

NEVADA CITY -- A Grass Valley man, Louis Riley James, was arrested Tuesday for investigation of homicide in connection with the death of Kenneth William Painter of Nevada City.

James, 35, had been under surveillance as a "person of interest" in the case and was arrested in a traffic stop shortly after he was seen leaving his home, according to a news release from Sheriff Keith Royal.

A search of the home resulted in evidence, including a large quantity of marijuana and a handgun, implicating James' involvement in the homicide, as did statements obtained during the investigation, the release said.

"Based upon information developed, it appears Mr. Painter's death was the result of a marijuana transaction gone bad," Royal said in the release.

Painter, 53, was reported missing April 7. His vehicle, with evidence officers said indicated foul play, was discovered April 8 and a search team found his body in a remote area of Nevada City April 9.

James is being held without bail at the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility in Nevada City pending arraignment.

By Cathy Locke

Auburn police this afternoon arrested a man suspected of conducting a version of an after-school bake sale featuring marijuana-laced brownies.

Police went to School Park Reserve at 55 College Lane about 1 p.m. after being advised by Placer High School officials of students possibly smoking marijuana, according to a department news release.

During the investigation, Officer Ian Ackard contacted John William Brazel, 18, of Auburn, and subsequently arrested him for suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale. Police said Brazel was selling marijuana in leaf form and mixed in brownies. They said Brazel also appeared to be under the influence of marijuana.

He was booked into Placer County Jail.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

By Kim Minugh

Three men forced their way into a South Land Park apartment late Wednesday night and ransacked the place, apparently searching for marijuana, according to Sacramento police.

Three people were inside the Riverside Boulevard apartment about 10:30 p.m. when one woman answered a knock at the front door, said Officer Konrad von Schoech.

Three masked men pushed her aside, entered the apartment and ordered the three victims to the ground, von Schoech said. One of the suspects asked if the occupants had marijuana, and when they said no, the suspects began searching the apartment.

They left with computer equipment and cell phones, von Schoech said.

Nobody was injured.

Victims were not able to give detailed descriptions of two suspects, but said one was 6 feet tall, weighed about 150 pounds and wore dark clothing, von Schoech said.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

By Andy Furillo

A Foothill Farms man who shot and killed a teenager during what was supposed to be a marijuana transaction last year has pleaded no contest to a gun charge and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Terrell Davon Craig, 40, entered the plea Monday in Sacramento Superior Court to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, records show.

He had initially been booked for murder in the Oct. 10 shooting death of Joshua Scott Trahan-Mays, 17, in Foothill Farms. However, Craig was never charged with murder by the District Attorney's Office.

Sacramento court records show that Craig has a 1998 felon-with-a-gun conviction and was sentenced to 32 months in prison.

He told The Bee in an interview that he has an additional conviction for shooting and killing a drug dealer when he was 17.

He entered his no-contest plea Monday in Judge Joseph Orr's courtroom just before the case was scheduled to be assigned for a preliminary hearing.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

Previous coverage:

Murder charge dropped in shooting of Carmichael teen in Foothill Farms - Oct. 15, 2009

By Kim Minugh

Placer County authorities are investigating an explosion at an Auburn apartment complex earlier this week that they said appears to have been caused by a clandestine hashish laboratory set up in a bathroom.

The four occupants of the apartment unit where the explosion occured received non-life-threatening burns and have been treated, Lt. Jeff Ausnow, spokesman for the Placer County Sheriff's Department, said today. Residents in surrounding units were evacuated but not injured.

Authorities responded to the complex on Gateway Court about 9 p.m. Tuesday after hearing reports of an explosion. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, which was contained to the unit where the lab was located.

Sheriff's detectives and officials from the state Department of Justice are investigating the lab, where hashish was being extracted from marijuana plants, Ausnow said.

The explosion appears to have been fueled by flammable fumes - including butane - used in the process, Ausnow said.

No arrests have been made as detectives continue their investigation, he said.

However, Ausnow said the four occupants could face felony charges of manufacturing a controlled substance.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

By Bill Lindelof

A Yolo County jury has convicted a Woodland man of shooting another man in the chest and stealing his marijuana.

Anthony Vasquez, 22, was found guilty of robbery, assault and attempting to intimidate a witness.

Officials with the Yolo County District Attorney's Office said Vasquez, whom they identified as a Norteno gang member, made arrangements on May 5, 2008, to buy marijuana. When the seller got into a car, Vasquez grabbed the marijuana and shot the victim.

Vasquez then went to a party.

The victim underwent hours of surgery to repair damage from a slug that pierced his lung, the DA's office said.

Six months later, Vasquez was arrested.

On July 4, a correctional officer at the jail found a letter written by Vasquez.
In it, Vasquez admitted shooting the victim and asking that his "homies" dissuade witnesses from attending his trial or urge them to say say Vasquez was not present at the time of the shooting, the DA's office said in a news release.

Vasquez is scheduled to return to Yolo County Superior Court on Thursday to set a date for sentencing. He faces life in prison.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

By Kim Minugh

The man considered a "person of interest" in the deaths of a Maine couple whose bodies were found in Lake County last week now faces charges in connection with the marijuana operation he employed the couple to help him with, according to authorities.

Robby Alan Beasley, 29, is now facing charges of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and maintaining a place for the unlawful sale of marijuana, according to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff's Department.

Beasley has been in custody since Saturday, when authorities arrested him on an unrelated, outstanding warrant out of Maine, where he is from, sheriff's Capt. Jim Bauman told The Bee earlier this week. He is ineligible for bail.

Beasley also remains a "person of interest" in the deaths of Frank and Yvette Maddox, whose bodies were found 20 feet down a roadside embankment by two motorists who stopped to take a break in Lake County, according to authorities.

The couple had moved from Maine several months ago to help Beasley with his marijuana operation in Lake County, Bauman said. Yvette Maddox was reported missing in late January, and Frank Maddox was reported missing in early February.

Authorities are asking for the public's help in finding Frank Maddox's pickup truck, which authorities suspect might have played a role in the couple's death.

Detectives have learned that a truck believed to be Frank Maddox's was reported to county code enforcers on Jan. 25, and has been seen several times since, the release states.

Most recently, the truck was seen parked on Spruce Grove Road near Noble Ranch Road on Feb. 23. It has since been moved.

The missing truck is described as a 1982 Toyota pick-up, either tan, beige, or pale yellow in color, with a black camper shell. Code enforcement photos further reveal that primer paint is exposed on the hood and roof areas and that the truck has oversized tires with chrome and gold wheels, a chrome brush guard on the front, and had California license plates of 1MHV850 at the time the photos were taken.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Sheriff's Department's Major Crimes Unit at (707) 262-4200.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

Previous coverage:

Maine man center of slaying investigation of couple in Lake County - March 9, 2010

By Bee Staff

A U.S. District judge in Sacramento has sentenced a pot grower/processer to three years and five months in prison, the U.S. Attorney said.

David Dean Davidson, 59, also was sentenced by Judge Morrison C. England Jr. to three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said.

Davidson pleaded guilty on Dec. 10 to growing more than 100 marijuana plants. He was arrested by U.S. marshals in June 2007.

He had been a fugitive since he failed to appear in court in September 2005, Wagner said.

The case was the product of an investigation by the Tehama County District Attorney's Bureau of Investigations, the Tehama County Sheriff's Department, the Alameda County Narcotics Task Force, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office Investigative Division, and the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, Wagner said.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Stegman, who prosecuted the case, in July 2003 Tehama County law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant for Davidson's residence in Red Bluff, where he was living with girlfriend and co-defendant Cynthia Barcelo Blake.

Officers found marijuana plants in three greenhouses in the backyard, as well as an indoor grow in the attached garage, Stegman said. There were 34 mature marijuana plants growing in the greenhouses and 1,100 cuttings in the garage, which had florescent lighting and an air purifier.

The discovery of the drug led officers to obtain another search warrant for a house owned by Davidson in Oakland.

There, officers found 35 mature marijuana plants growing in the backyard, and 634 cuttings planted in the basement with grow lights, carbon dioxide tanks, oscillating fans, air vents and a hood that vented to the outside, Stegman said.

Officers also found 54 packages of processed marijuana totaling six kilograms, Stegman said.

Blake pleaded guilty in January 2006 to maintaining drug involved premises and was sentenced to a year in prison and six months of home detention, Wagner said.

Lien_Tu_On[1].jpgFrom Kim Minugh and Bill Lindelof:

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies seized nearly $875,000 in marijuana this morning after locating a large indoor marijuana growing operation in a gated residential community in El Dorado Hills, according to authorities.

Culminating a three-month investigation that started with complaints from neighbors, deputies and agents from the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement served a search warrant on a residence on Calabria Court, off Sophia Parkway, said Lt. Bryan Golmitz, sheriff's spokesman.

Inside, authorities found about 1,000 marijuana plants, most of them 2- to 2 1/2-feet tall, Golmitz said. Authorities estimate the plants are worth about $875,000, based on estimates of how much marijuana each plant would yield and current market value.

They also found what Golmitz described as an "elaborate growing environment" that included ventilation systems and a light system. Electricity in the home had been wired to bypass the meter, and officials from Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to the home, Golmitz said. County officials responded and condemned the structure because of the conditions, he said.

Most of the plants found in the home were in the growing stage, and authorities did not find much processed marijuana, the lieutenant said.

Authorities are confident the grow was intended for illegal sales, rather than for medicinal marijuana use, Golmitz said.

"This is totally different. This has nothing to do with Prop. 215 sales or (co-op sales)," he said. "This is a marijuana grow operating for profit."

Arrested in connection with the grow was 47-year-old Lien Tu On (top left photo), who was at the home at the time authorities served the search warrant, according to Golmitz.

Bee Staff

Amtrak was not the way to go for a suspected drug courier, the Placer County Sheriff's Department said today in a news release.

A Colorado man was arrested last week after a Placer County Sheriff's K-9 found a large stash of marijuana aboard an Amtrak train in Colfax, according to the release.

The release gives this account:

Sheriff's deputies were called to assist Amtrak police officers while the train was stopped in Colfax on Jan. 12.

K-9 Okar (photo bottom right with what deputies say are the seized drugs), who is trained in finding drugs, pointed officers to the luggage of Daniel Ray Vialpando (photo bottom left), 27, of Colorado. Inside the luggage, deputies found five pounds of packaged marijuana.

Vialpando, who was traveling alone from Sacramento to Colorado, was arrested and booked into the Placer County Jail on suspicion of marijuana sales and transportation, the release states.

His bail was set at $110,000. He was also wanted on a warrant from Mariposa County.

Online jail records indicate he is no longer in jail.

vialpando daniel ray.jpg

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By Andy Furillo

Anthony James Winters was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison today for the Sept. 13, 2007, robbery murder of Alfredo Enrique Perez near Stockton Boulevard and Jansen Drive.

Investigators said that Winters, 22, shot the 20-year-old Perez in the back after the victim had gone to a Wells Fargo ATM. Winters' probation report said the robbery appeared to have taken place during the course of a marijuana transaction.

"It certainly was a cowardly act to shoot someone in the back, someone who was unarmed at night," Sacramento Superior Court Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard told Winters, just before she imposed the term.

A jury on Dec. 3 convicted Winters of second-degree murder after a four-day trial.

Friends and relatives of the victim filled every available seat at today's sentencing hearing.

"Don't let them go out at night," Marylou Perez, the victim's mother, said in her impact statement in a message to parents. "Don't let them go out alone. Don't let them die."

From Andy Furillo:

Nevada County prosecutors have filed manslaughter charges against a North San Juan man who rammed a suspected pot robber into a tree during a fatal getaway over the weekend, county District Attorney Clifford Newell said today.

Christopher A. Teachout, 32, was charged with voluntary manslaughter and gross vehicular manslaughter in the death Saturday of Timothy Daniel Fitzpatrick, Newell said.

Newell said his office did not file murder charges against Teachout because they don't believe the evidence indicates the defendant intended to kill Fitzpatrick.

Teachout was scheduled to be arraigned today in Nevada County Superior Court.

The case has generated passionate support for Teachout in the North San Juan community, but Newell said that did not affect his office's filing decision.

"There have been letters, emails and blogs," Newell said. "They're very supportive of him. But violence, either way, and committing crimes isn't going to be tolerated, and neither is vigilantism. Sheriff (Keith) Royal and myself are committed to increase our law enforcement presence up there and that's exactly what we're doing, and we've made great strides over the years.

"But we haven't made much of a dent in the marijuana trade, which comes with its own set of problems, which we're seeing here."

The Nevada County Sheriff's Department said Fitzpatrick, 43, of Elk Grove and an accomplice, Terry A. McLeod, 51, of Sacramento, donned ski masks and police-like uniforms and stormed a ranch house on Tobacco Road outside the North San Juan hamlet.

The two handcuffed four people inside and robbed them of a large quantity of marijuana as well as cameras, computer equipment and cell phones. Authorities said $4,000 in cash was later found in the bags that contained the marijuana, authorities said.

Officials said Teachout freed himself, got in his vehicle and chased the robbers, ramming his vehicle into the getaway truck and prompting its occupants to shoot at him. Teachout then rammed the truck again and sent it out of control into a tree, Sheriff Keith Royal said.

Fitzpatrick died at the scene from injuries suffered in the crash

McLeod, meanwhile, has been charged with murder under California law that allows for that filing for defendants accused of inherently dangerous felonies that result in death. McLeod also has been charged with false imprisonment and two counts of robbery, Newell said.

McLeod's bail has been set at $1 million, Newell said. Teachout has remained in custody in lieu of $80,000 bail. Newell said he expects Teachout's lawyer, Greg Klein, of Nevada City, to argue today that his client be released on his own recognizance.

Previous coverage:

Dead robbery suspect was an Elk Grove contractor - Jan. 5, 2010

Editorial: Wild West rebounds with a whiff of weed - Jan. 5, 2010

Apparent pot thief dies in Nevada County getaway chase - Jan. 3, 2010

By Kim Minugh

It shouldn't come as a surprise that jail staff members open mail sent to and from inmates - except the legal kind - but it proved to be one nevertheless for one giving girlfriend.

Jennifer Beals, 37, was arrested Monday night for allegedly sending some pot to her boyfriend, an inmate at the Rio Cosumnes Correction Center, via mail, said Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran.

She was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on two charges of giving a controlled substance to a person in custody, according to booking records. As of Tuesday, she remained in custody in lieu of $50,000 bail.

A warrant was issued for her arrest after deputies first discovered the postal pot Dec. 1, Curran said. Beals allegedly tried to send "several grams" of marijuana on two different occasions, Curran said.

A friendly reminder: Deputies running the RCCC and the Main Jail open and review all mail sent to and from inmates in their custody, Curran said. The only mail that isn't opened is correspondence with attorneys, he said.

From Cathy Locke:

A report of an open front door at an El Dorado Hills residence led to the discovery of a large indoor marijuana-growing operation.

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies responded about 8 a.m. Saturday to a report that the front door of a house in the 300 block of Arches Avenue was open and nobody appeared to be home. The caller also reported a trail of potting soil and marijuana leaves extending from the house into the driveway, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

Deputies reported that the front door appeared to have been kicked open. Inside they found a marijuana-growing operation and summoned detectives. Approximately 260 marijuana plants were found along with a sophisticated growing system, including grow lights and room ventilation, according to the news release.

Sheriffs officials said the plants seized had an estimated street value of $250,000.

The people responsible for the operation are believed to have illegally bypassed the residence's power meter, avoiding an estimated $6,000 in monthly utility charges.

An investigation is under way to identify the growers. No arrests have been made.

Bee Staff

Roseville Police Department Vice and Narcotics Enforcement Team officers have uncovered a marijuana growing operation inside an unoccupied house in the 1800 block of Blue Skies Drive in west Roseville, according to a Police Department news release.

Officers served a search warrant at the house on Wednesday and seized 33 mature marijuana plants, cash, and other evidence of marijuana cultivation and sales, the release states. City of Roseville building and code inspectors posted the house as uninhabitable due to electrical work that had been done without permits.

Robert Clive Cooper, 40, of Roseville was renting but not living in the Blue Skies Drive house, the release states.

He was arrested without incident on suspicion of possession and cultivation of marijuana, and released from the Roseville City Jail after he posted a $5,000 bail bond, the release states.

From Bill Lindelof:

Four men were arrested on marijuana growing charges after Elk Grove police served warrants at six residences in the city and found more than 1,400 plants.

Detectives arrested Robert Le, 37, Tri Quang Trinh, 24, Tuan Tran, 25, and Son Le, 42, on charges that included suspicion of cultivating marijuana and possession for sale.

Detectives found indoor marijuana-growing operations at several of the residences and recovered a half-pound of processed marijuana.

Search warrants were obtained for homes on the 6700 block of Eskridge Way, 9000 block of Four Seasons Drive, 10300 block of Stathos Drive, 6000 block of Jefjen Way, 8500 block of Purcell Way, and 9500 block of Clarke Farms Drive.

From Kim Minugh:

Lincoln police arrested a 26-year-old man Friday morning after investigators found a marijuana processing plant inside his Lincoln home, according to authorities.

Clinton Hooper, a Lincoln resident, was booked into the Placer County Jail on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sales, possessing concentrated cannabis, being a convicted felon in possession of live ammunition and committing a felony while out on bail, said Lincoln police Lt. David Ibarra.

On Friday morning, a Lincoln police officer responded to Green Ravine Drive and Fielding Lane after neighbors reported the strong odor of marijuana coming from a U-Haul truck parked in the area, Ibarra said.

As the officer began to drive away from the truck, the officer noticed a man walk up to the truck, Ibarra said. The officer confronted the man and learned he was on probation out of Sacramento County for marijuana possession, Ibarra said.

That led police to the man's residence in the 300 block of Falkirk Court, where they found more than 100 pounds of marijuana in various stages of processing, concentrated cannabis, live ammunition, narcotic paraphernalia and more than $11,000 in cash, Ibarra said.

Hopper is being held without bail, according to jail booking records.

From Bill Lindelof:

Two men suspected of identifying themselves as police and then stealing marijuana have been arrested in Nevada County.

The Nevada County Sheriff's Department said about 4 a.m. Saturday they responded to a home on Keenan Way between Lake of the Pines and Grass Valley near Highway 49 to investigate a reported home invasion robbery.

Deputies said Tuesday that three men knocked on the front door of the residence and said they were law enforcement officers. The suspects then entered the home, took marijuana and hit a resident of the home on the head with a blunt object.

Detectives later arrested two of the three men suspected in the robbery, Christopher Lee Brooks, 26, and Robert Madsen, 30, at a home in the 100 block of King Court in Grass Valley. They are suspected of robbery, burglary, assault and false imprisonment.

Detectives are still looking for a third suspect.

From Bill Lindelof:

An arrest was made and 458 marijuana plants were confiscated in law enforcement raids across three counties last week.

The raids resulted in the arrest of Jonathan Farrell, 39, of the North San Juan area, a Nevada County Sheriff's Office news release states. Farrell was arrested on suspicion of growing, selling or transporting marijuana.

Search warrants were executed at nine locations in Nevada, Yuba and Sierra counties after a nine-month collaboration by the sheriff's Narcotic's Task Force with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Aircraft surveillance had spotted marijuana gardens on nearly every parcel where the search warrants were executed, according to officers.

Farrell was named as owner of most of the properties. A total of $10,000 was also recovered in the raids.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story included an incorrect street for the home where police say they found marijuana. C Street is the correct location.

From Bill Lindelof:

A pot garden first spotted in an east Sacramento back yard by airborne police was busted this morning.

Residents of the home on the 4200 block of C Street told Sacramento police they have medicinal marijuana cards and that the plants were being raised for health reasons.

Police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said that a report will be submitted to the Sacramento District Attorney's Office for review of the resident's claim that the marijuana was for medicinal use.

One person was taken into custody on suspicion of having a deadly weapon -- brass knuckles -- Leong said.

The house was boarded up because of concern by authorities that electrical wiring and chemicals used in the growing process created a dangerous building.

Leong said the officers in the department helicopter spotted the marijuana growing in the back yard, leading to officers this morning using a search warrant to enter the location, where they found marijuana in the back yard, the garage and the home.

Leong said much of the marijuana appeared to have been harvested.

Bee Staff

San Diego County authorities announced today that they have arrested 23 people, seized $70,000 in cash and shut down 14 marijuana dispensaries that were "operating under the guise of selling marijuana and marijuana-laced products for medicinal purposes."

"Like most San Diegans, I support the use of legitimate and legal medical marijuana use," said San Diego District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis. "However, it appears these so-called marijuana dispensaries are nothing more than for-profit storefront drug dealing operations run by drug dealers hiding behind the state's medical marijuana law."

She said 23 people were arrested as the result of a four-month undercover investigation, involving multiple law enforcement agencies. More arrests are possible, she said.

More than $70,000 in cash and six firearms also were seized, she said.

The 14 dispensaries and six residences that were searched are in San Diego and the surrounding area, she said.

Possible charges include the sale and possession for sale of marijuana, conspiracy and firearms offenses, she said. Those charges carry a maximum of penalty of up to four years in prison.

She said for-profit marijuana dispensaries are not legal according to state law and the State Attorney General's published guidelines. The AG's guidelines on medical marijuana allow non-profit collectives and cooperatives that cultivate marijuana to serve their legitimate patients if they follow rules, which include acquiring marijuana only from their members and reimbursing only reasonable costs like out-of-pocket expenses, she said.

(For a recent Bee story about pot dispensaries, click here.)

"We have not, and will not prosecute people who are legitimately and legally using medical marijuana," Dumanis said. "It's a shame that a few illegal drug dealers are trampling on the compassion shown by voters in passing California's medical marijuana law."

An initial review of the records at one dispensary reveals that more than $700,000 in income was generated in the past six months through the selling of marijuana and marijuana-laced products, she said.

Other law enforcement involved in the operation are the U.S. Attorney's Office for San Diego, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the San Diego Sheriff's Department, the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego Narcotics Task Force, according to a news release.

Photo below was taken at one of the dispensaries, according to the news release.


From Bill Lindleof

Three large marijuana plants were found in a Rocklin home after firefighters extinguished a blaze at the residence Wednesday morning.

During an investigation of the early morning fire in the 2900 block of Twin Creeks Lane, a Rocklin Fire Department Arson investigator found the plants, according to a Police Department news release.

A resident of the home, Joel Klingenberg, 24, told officers he was responsible for the marijuana, police said. Police said it appears that the marijuana was for personal use and not for sale.

A small amount of dried marijuana was allegedly found in Klingenberg's vehicle, police said. Klingenberg was arrested on suspicion of cultivation and transportation of marijuana, the release states.

From Julie Johnson:

Elk Grove Police Department officers arrested two people in Elk Grove on Wednesday in connection with a trio of marijuana growing operations.

D. Boson.jpgDalshawn Boson (left photo), 36, and Jovanna Johnson (right photo), 28, were booked at the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of marijuana production and possession, conspiracy to sell drugs and for possession of drugs while armed with a loaded firearm.

J. Johnson.jpgPolice officers arrested Boson at a residence in the 8100 block of Drais Way in Elk Grove. They found and arrested Johnson after she left the Elk Grove residence.

A department investigation led detectives to three marijuana growing operations -- at the Elk Grove home and two Sacramento residences, in the 7900 block of Stevenson Avenue and the 5200 block of Village Wood Drive.

The department's narcotics and special weapons teams confiscated two semiautomatic firearms, 681 marijuana plants and more than 10 pounds of processed marijuana.

Boson and Johnson are allegedly connected to all three residences, according to Officer Christopher Trim, spokesman for the Elk Grove Police Department. Trim said they were still determining if the suspects lived in one of the homes.

From Bill Lindelof:

Shasta County's crackdown on marijuana gardens has topped last year's eradication effort.

Early today deputies from the Shasta County Sheriff's Department's Marijuana Eradication Team destroyed 8,444 marijuana plants. The marijuana was believed to have been planted by growers from Mexico, although no arrests were made.

The plants found and destroyed in the Backbone Creek area at Shasta Lake brings the total number of marijuana plants eradicated this gowing season to 474,596. Last year, 472,000 were eradicated.

From Chelsea Phua

Authorities seized 96 marijuana plants worth more than $76,000 after a California Highway Patrol helicopter pilot spotted them growing along a popular bicycle and walking trail in Folsom.

In a Thursday news release, Folsom police said the plants were found along the trail in the Sibley Street and Glenn Drive area. (See photo below supplied by the Folsom Police Department.)

Authorities said the plants might have been growing the hidden location for about six to seven months. Police said they do not know who planted the marijuana and are looking for suspects. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Jon Lasater at (916) 355-7343.

The CHP helicopter pilot, Kevin Vinatieri, has spotted two other crops in Folsom in four years, Folsom police said.

Marijuana Grow.pdf - Adobe Reader.JPG

From Bill Lindelof:

The man officials say led a nationwide drug-sales operation and two others have been arrested in El Dorado Hills.

michael klaisle.jpgdana marie allen.jpgsamuel perez.jpgSacramento County drug task force detectives also seized 47 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $300,000.

Investigators confiscated $6,000 and impounded two vehicles, said Tim Curran, spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities arrested Michael Francis Klaisle (far left), 26, Dana Marie Allen (left), 22, and Samuel Alex Perez, 30, at a home on the 4700 block of Concordia Drive.

Curran said Klaisle was head of a drug-sales network that stretches across the country.

"We do believe that Klaisle, the ringleader, was distributing marijuana locally and nationwide," said Curran.

The investigation began several months ago in Sacramento County, Curran said.

From Bill Lindelof:

Drug enforcement officers arrested one man and found hundreds of marijuana plants Wednesday after serving search warrants at three Nevada County sites.

The first warrant resulted in the arrest of Robert Furnas, 50, of Nevada City on suspicion of growing and possessing marijuana. Nevada County Sheriff's Narcotics Task Force officers found and destroyed 354 marijuana plants in a large garden on federal land off Lower Greenhorn Road.

Later in the day, deputies served a search warrant in the 14000 block of Chalk Bluff Road. There, deputies seized 758 marijuana plants growing outdoors.

They also found an underground growing facility in a large metal portable storage container. The container had ventilation and grow lights.

The third search warrant was served on the 15000 block of McQuiston Lane in Grass Valley, where 301 marijuana plants were found.

No arrests were made at either of the two later searches.

From Nicole Williams:

A Sacramento man suffered second-degree burns on half of his body after an explosion erupted when he attempted to light a marijuana pipe in his bathroom earlier today, fire officials said.

The man, who is in his earlier 30s and a medical marijuana patient, had mixed butane with his pot and the chemical is likely the cause of the explosion, which knocked the bathroom wall off its foundation, said Jim Doucette, spokesman for the Sacramento Fire Department.

"It's not for sure that's what happened ... but whatever he was doing went wrong," Doucette said.

A second-level hazmat alarm was called because the Fire Department was initially unaware of the source of the blast, he said.

No one else was in the house at the time of the explosion, and the man was transported to a nearby hospital but is expected to recover, Doucette said.

From Julie Johnson:

Nine people were arrested Wednesday for allegedly growing a total of 1,400 marijuana plants inside their homes in Sacramento and Elk Grove.

Several tips led Elk Grove Police and SWAT teams to search one home in the 8800 block of Marlin Seas Court in Sacramento and three locations in Elk Grove: in the 4200 block of Zaccaro Way, 4700 block of Coppola Circle and the 5000 block of Efthemia Way. Police also found high-tech plant cultivation equipment.

Four children, ages 1, 3, 6 and 9, were present at the time of the arrests and are in custody of Child Protective Services.

The suspects were also arrested for utility fraud, but police couldn't confirm whether high water or power bills led them to the homes.

"Typically in these types of marijuana growing arrangements there are some kind of diversion of power that takes place, but I can't comment on this case," said Officer Christopher Trim, spokesman for the Elk Grove Police Department.

Trim confirmed that police suspected the operations among the homes were connected, but said they didn't seem gang related.

"It's assumed that the marijuana would be sold, but where is something our investigators are still pursuing," Trimm said.

Nhan Sinh Tang, 36; Hui Qing Chen, 28; and Phu Phung Tran, 50, were arrested under suspicion for utility fraud, marijuana cultivation, possession for sale and conspiracy to sell.

Ermei Yee, 67; Andy Cam Mach, 37; Kuntai Fan, 78; Ping Min Fan, 33; Jimmy Vy Tran, 48; Terrie Tran, 35 were also arrested for the same charges plus child endangerment.

From Jane Braxton Little:

Six men charged with multiple felonies in a marijuana farm raid last week have been transferred to federal custody to face arraignment in the Eastern District of the U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Lassen County District Attorney Robert M. Burns dismissed all state charges Thursday, when the suspects appeared for a scheduling hearing in Lassen County Superior Court.

Acting U.S. Attorney Larry Brown will prosecute the case under federal law, Burns said.

The six suspects were arrested June 16 after a team of county and federal investigators stumbled on the marijuana garden near Little Valley in northern Lassen County.

A seventh suspect began firing on the officers. He was shot and killed in the ensuing gun battle, which also injured two Lassen County Sheriff's deputies.

Facing federal charges are Clemente Arroyo, Jose Zepeda, Norman Mike, Jose Mendoza-Garcia, Miguel Mosquedo and Alex Zavala.

From Bill Lindelof

Thousands of pot plants worth what authorities say was $58 million were found and pulled from the ground in El Dorado County.

The sheriff's department said the marijuana-growing operation off Salmon Falls Road near the Dorado Ridge Trail and Salmon Valley Lane was taken apart last week.

A department news release said authorities found and destroyed 32,000 plants, some as tall as 6 feet, that were growing over a three-mile area covering private, state and federal land and watered with a mile of irrigation lines fed by dammed creeks.

No suspects were found at the site and no arrests in connection with the operation have been made.

No other information was available.

Bee Staff

Elk Grove detectives arrested a 20-year-old man after investigators said they found evidence of marijuana and LSD sales at a residence.

Michael Wayne Sickels was arrested on suspicion of drug violations after a search of a residence in the 9200 block of Trenholm Way, according to an Elk Grove Police Department crime summary.

The search also turned up a stole firearm, the summary states.

From Bill Lindelof:

Shasta County Sheriff's deputies faced a potentially dangerous situation when they arrested two men for suspicion of growing marijuana, according to a press release.

When members of the Shasta County Marijuana Eradication team found 569 marijuana plants Wednesday on property in the "Small Farms" area, they also recovered assault rifles and a sawed-off shotgun. Deputies said there were also three pit bulls on the property.

Tanen Joe Munoz, 22, and Russell Andrew Judson, 21, were arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and being armed during the commission of a felony.

From Bill Lindelof:

The Nevada County sheriff says that a man who disappeared last month may be the victim of a homicide.

Isaiah Eli Marsh, 30, was reported to have been missing since April 14. The sheriff's department issued a news release about a week later seeking help finding Marsh, whose black pickup truck was also missing.

On May 15, the pickup was found in Riverside County, and the sheriff's department believes Marsh could be dead. His possible death might be related to involvement in the sale of marijuana, said Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal.

The pickup, which was dusted for fingerprints, was returned to Nevada County.

Marsh, whose residence is in a rural area north of Nevada City, was growing marijuana, Royal said. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's department at (530) 265-1471.

"We want to hear from anyone who knows what he was doing prior to his disappearance," he said. "He was growing and selling locally. We knew that he had a larger quantity and may have had a deal going. Who was that with? That's what we want to know."

From Stan Oklobdzija:

Sacramento Police have arrested a man in connection with a string of marijuana dispensary robberies, but are still looking for two of his alleged accomplices, police said Friday.

Ronald Royal, 36, was arrested Thursday and is accused by police of aiding two armed robbers gain access to at least three marijuana dispensaries robbed in Sacramento since February, police said. Police think that Royal went into the dispensaries first, posed as a customer and then opening the normally-locked doors for the robbers to enter, police said.

Police are still looking for two men wanted in connection with the three robberies. The first is described as a black man who stands about 6 feet tall. He has a large build, and was last seen wearing a black beanie cap, a black hooded sweatshirt with a white T-shirt underneath and dark jeans. The man has a thin mustache and was armed with black revolver, police said.

The second is described as black man standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall. He has a thin build and was last seen wearing a black beanie cap, a light-colored short sleeved button-up shirt with designs on it and dark jeans with white designs on the rear pockets.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sacramento Police Department at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip by texting to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter SACTIP followed by the tip information.

By Kim Minugh

Sacramento police have arrested three men in connection with the 2006 killing of 18-year-old James Ramirez, authorities announced today.

The three suspects - 23-year-old Terry Alexander, 31-year-old Alex Brown and 31-year-old David Carrera - already were in custody at the Sacramento County Main Jail on unrelated charges, according to police spokeswoman Officer Laura Peck.

All are expected to be arraigned Tuesday on one murder count each, according to jail booking records.

Ramirez, who was a recent McClatchy High School graduate, was shot to death at the front door of his South Land Park home on Jan. 3, 2006. Prior to the shooting, police said the suspects kidnapped two brothers from their home in the 2100 block of 18th Avenue and 21st Street and drove them to Ramirez's home, located in the 4500 block of Francis Court.

One of the kidnapped brothers summoned Ramirez to the door, where he was killed. One of the brothers was left at the home with Ramirez, and the other was dropped off in the 2100 block of 15th Avenue.

Police did not release any details regarding possible motivation.

guns_coke.jpgFrom Kim Minugh:

Sacramento police announced today a major bust that netted more than $800,000 in drugs from south Sacramento.

In February, detectives concluded an investigation that led to the seizure of more than 10 kilograms of cocaine and three-quarters of a pound of crystal methamphetamine, said Sacramento police Sgt. Norm Leong. Detectives also recovered a stolen gun and more than $10,000 in cash.

Five people from Sacramento were arrested in the bust, but police are not releasing their names.

The investigation began in January, when police received information about an organization trafficking large amounts of cocaine into the Sacramento area, Leong said. Police seized the drugs after serving search warrants in the 6600 block of Carnation Avenue, the 3500 block of La Grande Boulevard, the 8100 block of Torrente Way, and the 7100 block of South Land Park Drive, Leong said.

The cocaine was seized in powder form. Sold by the gram on the streets, the total package would have gone for about $835,000, Leong said. If the cocaine had been processed into crack cocaine, the total package would have sold for more than $2 million.

The methamphetamine, sold in grams, would have been worth almost $35,000, Leong said.

Detectives believe the suspects were local drug dealers who would have sold the drugs in the Sacramento area, Leong said.

The bust also resulted in two other arrests - two people who fired at an undercover detective as he carried out part of the investigation, Leong said.

The detective was on Carnation Avenue when he was approached by two neighbors of one of the drug suspects, Leong said. When the detective declined their offer to sell him marijuana, the neighbors went into their house, got a handgun and came outside, firing at the detective as he drove away, Leong said.

Police arrested 22-year-old Albert Vargas and 25-year-old Seggran Pillal in connection with that incident, Leong said. Vargas is being held in the Sacramento County Main Jail on charges of attempted murder, cultivating marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale, according to booking records.

Pillal is being held at the jail on a charge of attempted murder, booking records show. Both men are ineligible for bail.

From Stan Oklobdzija:

Sacramento Police are looking for two men who robbed a marijuana dispensary in Oak Park Tuesday night, police officials said.

At about 7:50 p.m., two men entered Green Solutions in the 3300 block of Broadway and held employees at gunpoint, police said. After pistol whipping one of the employees, they made off with money and marijuana, according to Sacramento Police.

The first robber was described as a black man in his 20s standing between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall, police said. He was last seen wearing a black baseball cap.

The second robber was also described as a black man in his 20s standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall, and was last seen wearing a black beanie, a white T-shirt and jeans, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sacramento Police Department at (916) 443-HELP.

Droese arrest.JPGFrom Sandy Louey:

Folsom police have arrested an 18-year-old Folsom High School student who allegedly planned to sell marijuana-laced brownies to his classmates.

Around 12:30 p.m. Friday, a vice principal at Folsom High contacted police after being alerted by a student. The student indicated that Kevin Michael Droese (photo left) had made brownies laced with marijuana, Officer Michelle Beattie said in a news release Tuesday.

Police said Droese was going to sell the brownies at school. All the brownies that he was suspected of baking were recovered.

On Friday, Droese was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale.

From the Associated Press:

A Gridley couple has been arrested after being caught on tape smoking marijuana in front of their two children.

Luke Abraham Duran, 23, and Angie Lynn Gerst, 25, face charges of marijuana possession and child endangerment.

Police in Butte County say their two sons, ages 7 and 1, tested positive for marijuana after their parents were arrested Jan. 30. The children have been placed in protective custody.

Police say a visitor caught Duran and Gerst on camera, taking turns smoking from a glass marijuana pipe. The older boy was reportedly seen standing with the couple, while the younger child was in his mother's arms.

Gerst and Duran were booked at the county jail and released.

From Sandy Louey:

During a weekend traffic stop, a Butte County sheriff's deputy discovered 81 pounds of marijuana, according to a news release.

The deputy was on patrol on Highway 99 about 8 a.m. Saturday when he spotted a southbound Ford F-150 pickup truck in which the GPS unit was mounted on the windshield and obstructing the driver's view, according the Sheriff's Department news release.

During the stop, the deputy's K-9 partner walked around the truck and alerted the deputy to the rear license plate area, where bags of processed marijuana were hidden, the release said. The Sheriff's Department estimated the street value of the 81 pounds of marijuana at $324,000.

The driver of the truck, Leland Lapham, 58, of Lititz, Pa., was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana. Lapham was booked in the Butte County Jail with bail set at $100,000, authorities said.

Anyone with information about this case can call the sheriff's department at (530) 538-7389.

From David Richie:

Rocklin police are singing the praises of Diva, their dope-sniffing dog, after the K-9's latest exploit at a local campus where Diva and her human partner rolled in to check cars parked in the student parking lot last week.

Diva's nose led officers to car at a local school, which police did not identify, about 10:30 a.m. Friday. A search turned up about 13 grams of suspected marijuana along with digital scales and an open container of alcohol, police said.

Officers contacted the owner of the car and the Rocklin Unified School District will take "appropriate actions" when the investigation is complete, Lt. Lon Milka, police department spokesman, said in a press release.

The owner of the car is not being identified because he or she is a minor.

Random searches at local schools are not new. Police and school district officials have made several similar arrests during the past three years.

Diva is a black Labrador and a three-year police department veteran. During the past year she has been involved in about 100 drug busts throughout the city and helped officers find pot, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, police said.

From David Richie:

A multiple agency drug task force hit nine suspected indoor marijuana growing operations in rural El Dorado County and Nevada County earlier today, seizing pot, guns, cultivation equipment and about $625,000 in cash.

A total of 10 search warrants and five arrest warrants were served.

About 200 law enforcement officers from the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Forest Service and many other agencies participated in the coordinated raids.

"All the locations were hit around 10 a.m. and everything went smoothly," said Sgt. Bryan Golmitz, spokesman for the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.

In a press release, Attorney General Jerry Brown noted that armed guards protected the sites and he called the indoor growing operations "a threat to public safety."

Officers confiscated approximately 2,100 plants, 100 pounds of processed marijuana, about $625,000 in cash along with numerous lights and generators used in the growing operations.

They also found two handguns, three rifles, and five shotguns.

Search warrants were served at six locations in El Dorado County. Those homes were located on Silver Ridge Court, Camino, High Twist Lane, and Grizzly Court, Somerset, Fort Jim Road, Placerville, Mosquito Road, Swansboro, and Spring Valley Road in Pollock Pines.

Three warrants also were served Nevada County but Golmitz did not have those locations.

The raids came after a two-month investigation.

State officials said the investigation started with the discovery of an outdoor marijuana growing operation in Pollock Pines. Agents then determined that the same suspects had recently spent millions of dollars to purchase other properties in El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Mendocino, Sacramento, Alameda, and San Francisco counties.

That land-buying spree had been going on for four years.

Numerous suspects were detained during the raids but officials were still questioning them late Tuesday afternoon and none had been booked yet into local jails.

From David Richie:

At least 100 law enforcement officers from a half dozen agencies fanned out over Yuba and Sutter counties today making 25 arrests while seizing large quantities of methamphetamine and marijuana as well as heroin, guns and money in a gang crackdown, the attorney general said.

"Tragically, gang activity is deeply embedded in many communities and is spreading throughout rural California," said California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. as he announced the results of "Operation Showdown."

The 25 suspects under arrest include at least six gang members and eight gang associates - Nortenos and Surenos active in Yuba City, Marysville and the surrounding county areas, Brown said. Investigators confiscated almost six pounds of methamphetamine, 42 pounds of marijuana, 21 guns, an unspecified amount of heroin and about $101,000 in cash.

One of the search warrants yielded what agents described as "186 gigantic marijuana plants capable of producing up to eight pounds of marijuana buds per plant," according to a press release.

Agents said the methamphetamine also was high quality. "A lot of it was Crystal Ice," said Michelle Gregory, spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.

Five children also were taken into protective custody during the sweep, Gregory said.

The raids were the culmination of a three-month investigation, Gregory said. During that interval undercover agents made more than 50 drug buys as well as gun purchases. Guns bought during the investigation included assault weapons.

From Sandy Louey:

Six masked men posing as federal agents are being sought in connection with a Loomis home-invasion robbery Saturday night in which they stole medicinal marijuana, officials said.

The incident took place shortly after 9 p.m. in a home on Swetzer Road when the men went into the unlocked home and ordered the occupants to lie on the floor. At least one of the men, who were wearing bandanas as masks, was armed with a handgun, according to a release from the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

The men ordered the occupants to lie on the floor and bound them with duct tape, the release said.

Between 10 to 20 pounds of marijuana were taken, including some processed marijuana and several marijuana plants, officials said.

The robbers left in a vehicle. The Sheriff's Department investigators have no leads on the identity of the robbers.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call (530) 886-5375.

From Niesha Lofing:

Three men face narcotics charges in connection to a $750,000 marijuana growing operation in a south Sacramento County field.

The men were arrested after Shasta County Sheriff's deputies responded at about noon Wednesday to a report of suspicious activity in a field on the 9000 block of Grant Line Road, sheriff's Sgt. R.L. Davis stated in a news release.

Deputies found a large white van with several men inside in the field. As a sheriff's sergeant approached the vehicle, it sped off, Davis said.

The men abandoned the vehicle after a short pursuit. Several deputies and a K-9 team chased then apprehended and arrested the men without incident.

Deputies searching the van and field found several bags of marijuana and about 13,000 marijuana plants. The street value of the marijuana seized is $750,000, narcotics detectives say.

The men, who are 35, 38 and 44, were booked into Sacramento County Main Jail on several narcotics-related counts, Davis said. Their identities are being withheld at the request from investigators who don't want to divulge that information during the initial phase of the investigation, he said.

From Art Campos:

A Rocklin man told police that three men broke into his home, held a sawed-off shotgun on him as they beat and tied him and then stole $500 and marijuana he uses for medical purposes.

The home invasion occurred at about noon Monday on Aguilar Road, police reported.

Officers found the front door forced open and located the victim, who declined medical attention for his injuries, Sgt. Tom Dwyer wrote in a news release.

The victim told police he didn't know his attackers and that the robbers ransacked the home for about 15 minutes before fleeing.

Two of the suspects were described as being in their 20s, one of them wearing short, curly brown hair. The other was described as an African American in his 20s. He wore braided hair and carried the sawed-off shotgun.

Lt. Lon Milka said the victim had a valid Proposition 215 card.

Proposition 215 was approved in 1996 by California voters, and it allows patients with a valid doctor's recommendation to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use.

From David Richie:

Citrus Heights police arrested three people Wednesday and took two children into protective custody during a probation search. The arrests occurred about 11:45 a.m. at a house in the 7000 block of Oak Spring Way, north of Antelope Road, between Interstate 80 and Rollingwood Boulevard.

Officers said they found approximately four ounces of suspected marijuana in plain sight and detected the strong odor of marijuana smoke throughout the house.

The children, a 4-year-old girl and 4-month-old boy, were also found during the search.

Officers arrested residents Christopher Michael Tolson, 31, and Stefani Lee Partin, 32, as well as a visitor, Jason Daniel Payton, 20, of Citrus Heights.

Tolson was booked Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and felony child endangerment.

Partin was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment but released from custody later that day.

Payton was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant.

From Niesha Lofing:

Five people were charged Thursday in connection with marijuana growing operations at homes throughout the Sacramento region.

A federal grand jury returned the two-count indictment against Tony Le, of Lincoln; Tien Le, of Sacramento; Hung Le, of Elk Grove; Cuong Le, of Sacramento; and Minh Le, of Sacramento. All were charged with conspiracy to manufacture at least 1,000 marijuana plants and manufacturing at least 1,000 marijuana plants, according to a news release by U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott's office.

The indictment alleges that from Nov. 1, 2006 to last week, the defendants conspired and manufactured marijuana plants in Placer and El Dorado counties.

An investigation commenced after Pacific Gas and Electric reported a possible power theft to the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

Federal and state search warrants were served at 10 houses in Foresthill, Auburn, Placerville, Lincoln, El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park, Elk Grove and Sacramento, the release states.

Authorities uncovered active indoor marijuana grow operations in four homes and seized 3,364 marijuana plants. A fifth house contained the components for an indoor growing operation that appeared to have been harvested, the release states.

If convicted, the defendants could face a maximum sentence of life in prison with a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence, the release states.

FL EDH PLANTS.JPGU.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Tuesday seized marijuana plants growing in a home in El Dorado Hills.
Florence Low/

From M.S. Enkoji:

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided three big-dollar marijuana growing operations this week inside some luxury homes in El Dorado Hills and Placerville.

The next day, Elk Grove police found more than 2,000 pot plants growing inside five tract houses in Elk Grove.

How do you know your neighbors are growing pot in their second-story study? A neglected house with painted windows was once a sure sign. Elk Grove Police Officer Chris Trim says rules of the game change as the culprits adapt.

New rules:

Don't assume that your neighborhood of expansive mansions with impeccable landscaping makes you immune to THE TROUBLE NEXT DOOR.

If you don't see the people next door for months at a time, it could mean TROUBLE NEXT DOOR.

If you're awakened by hammering and sawing or other ambitious interior construction activity during the night, TROUBLE NEXT DOOR could be building.

Vans and trucks could be delivering TROUBLE NEXT DOOR if they haul in an unusual amount of lighting equipment, irrigation supplies, air ducts and fans.

If neighbors generate so much trash it's thrown to the curb in stacks of plastic bags, it could be a sign of TROUBLE NEXT DOOR.

The best way to thwart TROUBLE NEXT DOOR is to introduce yourself to new neighbors, "get a read on them," Trim said.

From David Richie and Sam Stanton:

In a series of raids, federal agents and police targeted three indoor marijuana growing operations in El Dorado Hills and Placerville on Tuesday, serving eight search warrants and arresting six suspects in what was described as a "family-based" operation.

Indoor marijuana raids have become so common in quiet suburban neighborhoods of the region that they hardly merit headlines. But this operation was different, authorities say.

"This is a three-level home and backs up to an elementary school," Gordon Taylor, special agent in charge of the Sacramento office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said outside the home at 349 Arches Ave. "This is the first time we've seen this kind of operation in such a high-end neighborhood."

Here is the full Bee story.

A federal court jury in Fresno found two Modesto men guilty Thursday on federal drug charges for operating a medical marijuana dispensary in the Stanislaus County community that raked in somewhere between $6 million and $9 million in less than two years of operation.

Here is the Fresno Bee story.

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