Car Stuffed With Pot Leads Gilroy Police To Growing Operation

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(L-R) Rene Lujan, Armando Gonzales and David Vasquez. (Gilroy Police Department)

(L-R) Rene Lujan, Armando Gonzales and David Vasquez. (Gilroy Police Department)

GILROY (CBS SF) — A car trunk stuffed with marijuana plants alerted Gilroy police to an elaborate indoor grow operation in the city early Monday morning.

An officer patrolling the 7100 block of Rosanna Street saw two or three vehicles quickly drive off when the police car entered the neighborhood at about 2:55 a.m., according to Gilroy police.

The trunk of one of the vehicles—a Honda sedan—was so full of marijuana plants that it couldn’t close properly, police said.

The car was pulled over and three Gilroy teenagers were taken into custody.

The suspects were identified as David Vasquez and Armando Gonzales, both 18, and Rene Lujan, 19.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the three suspects had allegedly burglarized two residences that were part of an indoor marijuana grow operation, Sgt. Chad Gallacinao said.

Narcotics officers secured the two homes and seized more than 900 pot plants with an estimated street value of $400,000, police said.

Investigators also seized hydroponic lights, irrigation systems, chemicals, and fertilizer.

More growing equipment was found on the ground in the street where the suspects’ vehicle had been seen, Gallacinao said.

A nearby PG&E electrical box had been compromised to provide electrical power to the operation, police said. Utility officials estimated that more than $160,000 in electric service had been stolen.

Investigators believe that Vasquez, Gonzales, Lujan and possibly more suspects burglarized the grow operation, but did not appear to have been responsible for the operation itself, Gallacinao said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the grow operation, he said.

The three suspects were arrested for possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana and various burglary and probation violation charges.

Anyone with information regarding the case or other possible marijuana cultivation operations in the city is urged to contact Gilroy police Detective Bill Richmond at (408) 846-0350 or the anonymous tip line at (800) 782-7463.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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