$1.8 million worth of marijuana seized from 2 Rowland Heights homes; 6 suspects arrested

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ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> Narcotics investigators seized $1.8 million worth of marijuana from two Rowland Heights homes and arrested six suspects during a bust Tuesday, authorities said.
Detectives developed information that a home in the 18600 block of La Guardia Street in Rowland Heights was being used to grow marijuana, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective T. Simpson said in a written statement. Deputies arrived to conduct a search later the same day.
“An elaborate marijuana grow system was discovered at the location where several thousand dollars in U.S. currency and 300 marijuana plants at various stages of growth were seized,” Simpson said. Equipment such as lights, filters and fans used to grow the marijuana and conceal its odor were also discovered.
Deputies arrested four men and two women at the La Guardia Street home, officials said. Their names were not released Wednesday.
A child at the home was placed into protective custody by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
0723_NWS_SGT-L-RHGROW2Information gleaned at the La Guardia grow house led detectives to another in the 1200 block of Lindengrove Avenue, Simpson said.
“Although no suspects were located at the residence, (sheriff’s) narcotics investigators seized 646 marijuana plants, also at various stages of growth,” the detective said.
“The investigation is ongoing and there is no additional information available at this time,” he said.
Nearby in Baldwin Park, a house fire led police to discover about 1,000 marijuana plants growing inside a home Tuesday evening, officials said. An El Monte man was arrested in connection with the grow operation.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Simpson at 909-595-2264. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Azusa man arrested, half-pound of marijuana seized during Pasadena traffic stop

PASADENA >> Police arrested an Azusa man late Saturday after a routine traffic stop led officers to discover nearly half a pound of marijuana in his car, officials said.
Jerry Barragan, 19, is accused of transportation of marijuana for sales following his 8:40 p.m. arrest in the 700 block of North Marengo Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
Officers stopped his car for a traffic violation, Mercado said. “When they walked up to it, they could smell a strong odor of marijuana.”
Barragan consented to a search of his car, during which police found 220 grams of marijuana, as well as a “large amount” of cash, the lieutenant said.

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Deputies seize 950 marijuana plants from Industry warehouse; two arrested

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CITY OF INDUSTRY >> Deputies arrested two men and seized 950 marijuana plants from a City of Industry warehouse Wednesday, sheriff’s officials said. It was the third large indoor marijuana grow uprooted in the area in two months.
Investigators responding to an anonymous tip served a search warrant at a warehouse in the 1300 block of Darius Court, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Gannon.
“During the search warrant, hundreds of marijuana plants in various stages of growth — estimated street value worth over $3 million — and hydroponic equipment were recovered,” Gannon said. “The hydroponic equipment was used to cultivate the plants inside an otherwise nondescript local business (and) warehouse.”
The majority of the plants were mature and nearly ready to be harvested, officials said.
Arrested were David Nguyen, 32, and Phuong Nguyen, 54, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The suspects told investigators they were not related, Gannon said. David Nguyen said he was from Pennsylvania, and Phuong Nguyen said she was from Canada.
Both posted $50,000 bail and were released from custody Thursday pending their court appearances, records show.
Wednesday’s bust was the third large-scale marijuana grow eradicated by sheriff’s deputies since May.
Sheriff’s Industry Station deputies teamed with U.S. Marshals June 6 to seize an estimated $1.5 million worth of pot from an area house and arrest three suspects, Gannon said. Further details regarding the June operation were not available Wednesday.
Local deputies seized about $1.2 worth of marijuana found growing May 12 inside a warehouse in the 18000 block of Railroad Court, Lt. Arthur Scott said at the time. One suspect was arrested at the indoor grow site.
Anyone with information is asked to contact she sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322.

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Woman burned, man sought after suspected hash oil lab mishap near Covina


COVINA >> A woman suffered burns and a man was being sought after an apparent mishap stemming from a hash oil lab in an unincorporated county area near Covina Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The incident was firs reported about 1:45 p.m. as a possible assault after the woman showed up at a hospital with second-and third-degree burns on one of her arms, Sgt. F. Maldonado of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s San Dimas Station said. The injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
Deputies determined the woman had suffered burns in some sort of mishap at a small-scale lab used to concentrate marijuana into hash oil, or “honey oil,” on Calora Street near Grand Avenue, the sergeant said.
The injured woman’s boyfriend, who was also believed to have been present at the hash oil lab, had left the home and remained unaccounted for Wednesday afternoon, Maldonado said.
Firefighters responded to the home but found no fire or smoldering, he added.
The incident took place one day after Glendora police arrested a man and dismantled another alleged hash oil lab in the 1200 block of East Elgenia Avenue in West Covina, officials said.

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Police seize 700 marijuana plants from Arcadia home

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ARCADIA >> A water leak led to the discovery of about 700 marijuana plants growing inside an Arcadia home Friday, police said.
The out-of-town owner of a home in the 200 block of East Newman Avenue received a call from a neighbor about 7 a.m. to let him know about a water leak at his house, Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said in a written statement. The homeowner’s realtor checked on the home and discovered it was being used to grow marijuana.
0412_NWS_PSN-L-MJHOUSE2After obtaining a warrant, “Detectives searched the home and found the majority of the residence being used as a sophisticated, indoor marijuana grow operation,” Flores said. “Approximately 700 marijuana plants were being grown in various rooms throughout the house. The grow consisted of multiple rooms with lighting, ventilation, electrical wiring, irrigation and drying bins strewn throughout the residence.”
The home’s electrical system had been rewired to bypass the electrical meter, allowing the growers to steal their electricity, officials added.
Police saw no evidence the grow was medicinal, Flores said.
No one was inside the home when police arrived, and no arrests had been made Saturday, police said.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department

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Three convicted of Pasadena shotgun slaying stemming from robbery attempt

PASADENA >> A jury convicted three men of murder and other crimes Friday for the 2013 shotgun slaying of a Pasadena man in an attempted robbery during a marijuana transaction, authorities said.
Gang members Peter Parra, 37, of Pasadena, Kevin Jessie Cabrera, 27, of north Hollywood and Raymond Frank Conchas, 26, of Covina each face life in prison without the possibility of parole when they return to Los Angeles Superior Court for sentencing April 17, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in a written statement.
A jury found each of the three men guilty of first-degree murder, attempted robbery and conspiracy to a commit a crime for the Jan. 15, 2013, slaying of 21-year-old Zane Goldstein at Maple Avenue and Chester Street in Pasadena, officials said.
“The jury also found true the special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed during a robbery and allegations that a shotgun was used and the crime was for the benefit of a gang,” Santiago said.
The victim was riding in a car with his then-24-year-old brother when the shooting occurred.
Prior to the fatal attack, the brothers had arranged to meet the suspects in an alleyway to by a small amount of marijuana, which police described as less than an ounce.
“When the victim arrived, the defendants attempted to rob him and shot him in the head with a shotgun as he tried to escape near Maple Street and Chester Avenue,” Santiago said. Goldstein’s brother escaped serious injury.
A fourth suspect in the slaying, 21-year-old Michael Piepoli, received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole in November after being convicted of the killing, officials said. And a fifth defendant, 20-year-old Ward Lacey, is scheduled to go on trial for the killing in Feb. 23.

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Indoor marijuana grows found in two Arcadia homes, three arrested

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ARCADIA >> Police seized about 1,250 marijuana plants, arrested three people and took two infants into protective custody early Thursday after dismantling indoor marijuana-growing operations inside two Arcadia homes, police said.
As part of an ongoing investigation, detectives and SWAT team members served two search warrants in the 300 block of West Woodruff Avenue and the 1800 block of South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said in a written statement.
“Both warrants were served without incident, and indoor marijuana grows were found at each location,” Flores said.
Police uprooted about 750 marijuana plants from the Baldwin Avenue home, and another 500 from the Woodruff Avenue home, police said.
The complex indoor pot grows appeared to be bypassing electrical meters to steal electricity from the grid, Flores said.
Just before serving the search warrants, police arrested a man seen leaving from the Woodruff Avenue home in a vehicle, Flores said. Police also arrested a man who showed up at the home during the operation and a woman found inside with two infant boys, Flores said. The children were taken into the custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Arrested were Ming Gao, 46, of Arcadia, Jia Hui Shen, 27, of El Monte, and Lan Lau, 34, of Arcadia, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“No evidence was found at the location to indicate a medical marijuana grow operation,” Flores added.
Detectives had not yet determined who owns and is responsible for the homes, police said. Authorities were looking into the possibility of adding additional charges, such as utility theft and child endangerment.
All three were accused of cultivating marijuana and were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each pending their initial court appearances.

PHOTO courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department.

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Disturbance call leads deputies to marijuana grow in San Dimas; 2 arrested

SAN DIMAS >> Deputies checking out a call of someone yelling followed their noses to a marijuana grow Tuesday, authorities said.
Two people were arrested as a result of the discovery of about 100 pot plants growing inside a commercial building in the 400 block of Arrow Highway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The estimated street value of the plants was not available.
Sgt. Louie Serrano of the sheriff’s San Dimas station said deputies responded to a disturbance call at that location around 4:15 p.m.
“Deputies were able to contact two individuals. They did a welfare check inside and smelled the odor of marijuana, “ Serrano said.
Deputies discovered the illicit crop and arrested the man and woman present at the building.
Trenton Dale Burbank, 46, of San Dimas was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, while Cheri Diane Sawvell, 44, of Pomona was booked on suspicion of transporting or sales of a controlled substance, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Brett Lisle and Los Angeles County booking records.
Burbank was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail and Sawvell was being held in lieu of $30,000, booking records show. Both are scheduled to appear for arraignment Thursday in Pomona Superior Court.
The investigation was being handled by the Sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau.

– Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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Temple City house fire blamed on ‘honey oil’ lab

TEMPLE CITY >> A house fire that ignited Tuesday, blew out windows and caused about $152,500 in damages is believed to have been caused by the manufacture of concentrated cannabis, also known as “honey oil,” authorities said.
The blaze was first reported shortly after 8 p.m. at a home in the 9800 block of Garibaldi Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire officials said.
Firefighters found butane bottles and turned over the case to the sheriff’s Temple station, fire Inspector Rick Flores said.
Butane is commonly used in process of concentrating marijuana into a more potent forms.
Investigators labeled the incident a “reckless fire,” believed caused by, “the manufacture of a controlled substance,” sheriff’s Lt. Ismael Chavez said.
Flores said nobody was home when firefighters arrived. Windows were blown out and the fire spread throughout the house, he said.
Firefighters put out the blaze at 8:21 p.m.
Flores estimated damages to the structure at $150,000 and the $2,500 to the contents.
No suspects were in custody in connection with the incident Wednesday, Chavez said.

– Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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Covina police raid marijuana grow inside South El Monte commercial building

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SOUTH EL MONTE >> Officers arrested two people and discovered more than 700 marijuana plants growing in a vacant business on Thursday.
Covina Police Sgt. Jim McDonough said officers served a search warrant about 1 p.m. at the secluded, seemingly vacant business in 2600 block of Chico Avenue in South El Monte.
0725_NWS_SGT-L-POT1George Almaguer, 26, Pico Rivera and Jenny Ly, 31, of Rosemead were arrested at the scene, he said. They were booked on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and theft of electricity, as the sophisticated hydroponic grow operation was wired to bypass the electrical meter and steal its power directly from the Southern California Edison grid, the sergeant said.
Police estimated the grow operation had stolen at least $10,000 worth of electricity from the utility over the past year.
“There were three different rooms, each for different stages of growth,” the sergeant said. In all, police seized 733 pot plants from the buidling.
Investigators seized about $2,000 in suspected drug money that Almaguer was carrying, McDonough added.
0725_NWS_SGT-L-POT2The building where the pot grow was uprooted Thursday was situated at the rear of a lot that was secured with a padlocked gate, McDonough said.
Thursday’s bust was related to another investigation where a grow house was found in Covina on May 26, police said.
In the May incident, officers responding to call of several downed power lines smelled marijuana coming from a house in the 200 block of North Larkin Drive. More than 200 marijuana plants were found on the Larkin Drive residence.
That investigation led to Thursday’s search and arrests in South El Monte, though McDonough declined to say exactly how detectives identified the South El Monte address as a suspected grow operation. The investigation was ongoing.
A suspect has been identified in connection with the Larkin Drive grow house, however no arrests have been made, McDonough said.

– By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department

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