Pot growing operations found at 2 SF locations

July 13, 2010 1:28:13 PM PDT
San Francisco police say they seized about 175 pounds of marijuana in raids on two pot growing operations overnight. Tips from the public helped lead police to one apartment building at the corner of California and Walnut -- and another near the intersection of Anza and 43rd Avenue.

Two suspects are in police custody. Police are estimating that at both locations the confiscated a combined total of 175 pounds of marijuana and 225 marijuana plants worth an estimated street value of several hundred thousand dollars.

It was a big time pot harvest at an apartment building on California Street in Laurel Heights. Police said they seized about 100 plants and 100 pounds of marijuana.

Tuesday morning it brought out the number two commander in the San Francisco police department.

"Well this is in fact a pretty big operation if in fact a couple of hundred pounds were found - that's a big operation. That's not for personal use, that's for sales, quantity of sales," said San Francisco Police Asst. Chief Jeff Godown.

Police have been keeping an eye on the building for some time. Monday at 5 p.m. police began executing search warrants at three of the four units in the complex revealing what they say was an extensive marijuana growing operation, complete with a sophisticated lighting system. To secretly power the enterprise, police say the growers rigged the wiring to avoid the PG&E meter.

"When you bypass an electric meter and breakers at a residential building you essentially create a copper line in the wall that will continue to glow and get hotter and eventually burn the building down," said San Francisco Police Capt. Richard Corriea.

After the first warrants were served, police discovered information that led them to 43rd Avenue near Anza where officers said they found close to 200 additional plants. At least one person was taken into custody at about 1 a.m.

Back on California Street, one neighbor, who did not want to give her name, said she noticed suspicious men in front of the apartment building.

"I noticed guys going in and out and they accosted me several times because I was blocking their way in and out of the building with my car," said the woman.

"My daughter's school daycare playground is right across the street. I had no idea there was marijuana growing right there," said San Francisco resident Sonia Roll.

Tips from the public helped crack the case. There were some tell-tale signs: the windows were covered and there was also a pungent odor.

Police said in just the last month there has been a robbery and burglary of grow houses.


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