Fresno County sheriff’s deputies and federal authorities Tuesday shut down a major marijuana growing operation inside a home in a quiet Fresno subdivision west of Highway 99.
Nearly 1,000 marijuana plants in various stages of growth were discovered after the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Team was alerted to a massive amount of power being used at the house on the 4600 block of West Pine Avenue, near Blythe and McKinley avenues.
One man, identified as Jesus Nava Rodriguez, 50, was taken into custody after the narcotics officers served a warrant at the home. Inside, they say they found marijuana growing in every room except for a small living space for the plants’ tender.
Although California voted last week to permit the legal growth and consumption of marijuana, Sheriff Margaret Mims noted the massive amounts found were well beyond the six plants permitted for personal consumption under Proposition 64 and clearly intended for the out-of-state commercial market, where the buds can sell for $4,000 a pound.
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Mims said Nava Rodriguez would face charges of theft of electrical power, commercial cultivation of marijuana and possession of narcotics for sale.
The house contained an elaborate lighting system for growing the plants and an expensive charcoal filtering system intended to disguise the smell of the pungent weed from nearby neighbors.
“It’s the most elaborate I’ve seen,” the sheriff said.
Mims said the growth of the plants inside the home heavily damaged or destroyed the interior because of the humidity and the house might have to be gutted or torn down.
Authorities were trying to find the absentee owner to determine whether he or she was aware of how the home was being used.
The sheriff noted that bypassing the electrical meter box was dangerous – it can overload and cause a fire or an electrocution – and said such “grow houses” can be an open invitation to armed home invasion bandits.