Growing Pains

By Jesse B. Gill

Posted May 31, 2013 in Web Only
The Watch Dog Crime Blog LogoEastvale emerging as a hotbed, er, hothouse, for illegal marijuana growing

So it seems Eastvale has a bit of a problem with folks growing marijuana illegally.

Of course, if you’re reading this, you probably know a handful of people who, upon hearing that, would simply answer, “What’s the problem with that?” The cops, that’s who.

The most recent illegal marijuana grow spot was found Wednesday after deputies were tipped off to it in a home in the 5700 block of Cairo Court. They served a search warrant that afternoon and more than 400 marijuana plants and a whole bunch of stuff to process and package the stuff. Officials say the guys running the spot—Michael Binh Ta, 21, and Tony On, 20, both of Garden Grove—were stealing as much as $2,500 each month in utilities to keep the operation . . . um . . . operating.

Deputies arrested Ta and On on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, conspiracy and grand theft of utilities. Both menwere booked at Robert Presley Detention Center in downtown Riverside.

A few days earlier, on May 24, another alleged grow house was discovered by Riverside County sheriff’s deputies after receiving what department officials called, “new information” about a grow operation being run out of a home in Eastvale.

So that day, members of the Sheriff’s Eastvale Special Enforcement Team knocked on the door of a home in the 7400 block of Coco Court. They met three people allegedly inside the home at the time of the visit—44-year-old Kam Yuk Lam, of Rosemead, 49-year-old Francisco Rodriguez Jiminez, of Santa Ana and 45-year-old Guadelupe Martinez Anaya, also of Santa Ana.

Sheriff’s officials say the three adults also had a 3-year-old child with them in the home. What did they also have in there? All the illegal weed they were growing (allegedly).

The deputies got themselves a search warrant after they reasonably confirmed that there was indeed some illegal marijuana-growing going on inside the home. Once inside, the deputies found that most of the home had been converted into a grow spot, and it didn’t seem as if anyone was living there at all, officials said.

They found more than 800 marijuana plants and officials say the home was a place for Lam, Jiminez and Anaya to process and package the stuff for sale, according to a sheriff’s news release.

And since the home wasn’t exactly up to code, officials say there were tons of fire hazards, removed fire alarms, open containers of fertilizer (which has a tendency to, you know, blow up) and squalid living conditions. Also, the folks running the grow house were bypassing the home’s electrical meter, since growing marijuana indoors takes a lot of electricity, or at least enough to alert authorities if they’re paying attention.

Sheriff’s officials say Lam, Jiminez and Anaya stole as much as $4,400 per month in electricity to run the operation out of the home.

Deputies arrested Lam on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and grand theft for the aforementioned swiping of the utilities. Jiminez was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy, cultivation of marijuana and child endangerment for allegedly keeping the 3-year-old around the dangerous grow spot equipment. Anaya was also arrested on suspicion of child endangerment.

All three were booked into Robert Presley Detention Center. County Child Protective Services took the child into custody.

A day earlier, on May 23, deputies from the same special enforcement team responded to a very similar report at a home in the 13000 block of Ellis Park Trail, also in Eastvale. Deputies served a search warrant that afternoon and found the home to be empty, according to sheriff’s officials.

Well, empty is probably inaccurate. Unoccupied is probably a better word. The deputies found the home in a similar state as the one on Coco Court— more than 900 marjiuana plants, a pound of processed weed, digital scales and stuff to pack it all up with.

Again, the electricity meter was bypassed—creating an added fire hazard, according to officials—and whomever was running the grow spot was stealing about $6,000 in electricity every month.

No arrests were made after the bust of the Ellis Park Trail home, and sheriff’s officials say the case is still under investigation.

That same day, deputies found another grow house in Norco, which isn’t far from Eastvale. This one—in the 500 block of Carson City Way—yielded more than 600 plants and more than a quarter pound of processed weed, more than $70,000 in stolen electricity and no arrests.


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