Modesto LEO sniffs out Underground grow-op

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The Associated Press
Posted: 04/09/2010 07:51:01 PM PDT
Updated: 04/09/2010 07:51:01 PM PDT

MODESTO, Calif.—Modesto police say they've seized hundreds of marijuana plants after an officer on patrol in a suburban neighborhood noticed a strong smell of marijuana.

After obtaining a search warrant for a home and its adjoining property, Modesto police Det. Darren Ruskamp says officers on Friday uncovered an underground tunnel leading from an outdoor shed.

Inside the tunnel, officers and members of a narcotics enforcement team say they found two underground growing rooms filled with 255 marijuana plants.

Investigators estimate the plants could produce nearly $300,000 worth of marijuana every three months.

Also uncovered during the search was a pound of processed marijuana.

Reported by: Zara Arboleda

Police in the North Valley stumbled upon an underground drug operation which was really underground. The Modesto Police Department sent pictures to CBS47 showing the marijuana growing operation it busted Friday.

An officer just happened to be patrolling in a residential area when he noticed a strong smell of pot. Investigators found evidence and went into a shed behind a home and came upon a false floor. Under that, investigators found two underground rooms housing 255 marijuana plants.

Officers arrested a 34-year-old man. He faces several charges. Police say there may be more arrests in the coming days.

MODESTO, CA - A Modesto police officer who happened to catch a whiff of marijuana in the air during his routine patrol stumbled across an amazing find: two giant underground rooms housing a $1-million-a-year subterranean pot-growing operation, according to a Modesto police spokesman.

Officer Randy Bolinger was on routine patrol Friday morning along Scenic Drive in central Modesto when he noticed the very strong odor of marijuana in the area, Modesto police spokesman Det. Darren Ruskamp said.

Bolinger, a former drug investigator with the Modesto Narcotics Enforcement Team, determined the smell was coming from a home on the 1300 block of Scenic Drive near Coffee Road.

After receiving a search warrant, Bolinger and MNET investigators searched the house and found about one pound of processed marijuana, Ruskamp said.

But the real find came when officers turned their attention to the backyard and searched an outdoor wooden shed, Ruskamp said.

Inside the shed, the investigators found a false floor hiding a stationary ladder and leading to an underground tunnel. Behind a steel door at the end of the tunnel, officers found two sophisticated pot growing rooms with 255 marijuana plants.

The grow was capable of producing $250,000 to $300,000 worth of marijuana every three months, Ruskamp said.

Ruskamp said Modesto Irrigation District employees determined the residents had stolen over $52,000 worth of electricity to keep the massive 20 feet wide by 40 feet long by 7 feet high underground complex producing.

Two men who arrived at the house during the search led officers to a second home on the 1300 block of E Street in Modesto, where more cash and guns involved in the illegal pot grow were found.

Francisco Garcia, 34, of Modesto was arrested and booked for possession, cultivation and sale of marijuana as well as weapons charges. Ruskamp said investigators continued to follow the case and more arrests were expected.
After arresting one suspect so far in the case, police say they are about to make at least two more arrests.

the Rock

I wonder hqw long he was up and running for.. great idea going underground in that area as it stays over 100 degrees most of the summer


My suspicion is that it had nothing to do with the cop smelling it and everything to do with stealing power..


My suspicion is that it had nothing to do with the cop smelling it and everything to do with stealing power..
Agreed....They caught on to fact that they were losing elec...Easiest way to get a warrant...I smelled it...

Those bushes looked pretty good...

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