Police make East Central Fresno pot bust

September 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno police say a city code violation lead to a drug bust and the arrest of an alleged drug dealer.

23-year-old Benson Keodara now faces three felony charges. Police say he was cultivating marijuana and selling it.

Investigators say they seized 100 pot plants from an illegal grow at Keodara's parents' home on Robinson and Maple in East Central Fresno.

The family tells me the grow is for medicinal purposes, but police say since Keodara was selling the pot it's illegal.

Now his parents, the only two in the home with medical marijuana recommendations, could also be in trouble.

Fresno police chopped down dozens of large marijuana plants from the backyard of the East Central Fresno home.

"There was approximately 100 plants, they were pretty large, close to 8 feet tall. 5-6 feet in diameter, pretty much covering the whole backyard," Sgt. Bob Reynolds of the Fresno Police Department said.

But the homeowner, Mai Yang, says she only had 79 plants, far fewer than her medical marijuana recommendation allows.

"I have a license. My license 95, my husband 55 plants. Total for my husband and me 79 plants, that's it," Yang said.

Police say Yang only has a recommendation, not a state issued medical marijuana card, which gives her final permission to grow.

"Obviously, the outdoor grow is against city ordinance. But, also, the use of the marijuana for other than medical marijuana purposes is illegal," Sgt. Reynolds said.

In December the city issued an "urgency ordinance" to temporarily ban outdoor pot grows. In June that rule was made permanent, and the grow here was clearly an outdoor operation. The plants were so tall you could see them from across the street.

Neighbors tell me they complained to the city about the plants and the strong marijuana odor. But Dwayne Jackson says he has not seen a problem associated with the grow.

"They're not the gun-blazing marijuana growers that you see that have been busted," Jackson said. "They're not really trying to hide it. I believe they believe they were within the law growing it."

The plants seized will now be destroyed, along with what police say was a drug selling operation.

Grows like are first investigated by city code enforcement. If any criminal activity is suspected, police will become involved as they did here.

If not growers could be fined up to 800 dollars for a code violation. As for Benson Keodara, the man accused of selling the marijuana, he's in jail on $50 thousand bail.


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