Big pot bust in Sunnyside neighborhood

June 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno County sheriff's deputies busted a major pot grow in a Sunnyside neighborhood, at two houses they already know very well. They say one big family lives in the two homes across the street from each other at Clovis and Montecito.

Sheriff Margaret Mims says plywood and plastic are obvious signs of illegal activity out here. A greenhouse is even visible just over a tall fence. But the smell is the most obvious sign of a marijuana grow, and neighbors called to complain.

One by one, sheriff's deputies and federal DEA agents filled a trailer with pot plants pulled from two neighboring homes -- almost 1000 of them, along with several pounds of already dried marijuana.

"The potential profit just off of these two homes is about $7.5 million," said Sheriff Margaret Mims.

Right near a busy intersection and one the edge of a residential Sunnyside neighborhood, the homes aren't typical locations for large pot grows. But an overhead view from the sheriff's helicopter shows an extensive operation.

Investigators say greenhouses covered hundreds of plants, but hundreds more were clearly exposed. Residents admitted to Action News they've been growing pot for two years, but Sheriff Mims say it's even longer.

"We know that for the past at least three years, there have been marijuana grows at this location," she said.

In fact, four years ago, deputies investigated two home invasions here. They believe pot was the target.

Neighbors say the smell annoys them, but the threat of violence spilling out of the homes is even worse.

"It does concern me," said Maria Sanchez. "I have children here. Yeah it does [concern me.]"

Two houses down, though, a man who told me he was visiting his family said the pot grow didn't bother him at all.

"There's such gray areas," said Meng Yang. "All those things are going on with those laws. It seems like everywhere there's someone getting busted for something."

Minutes later, a neighbor's tip led investigators to the house Yang was visiting, and the pile of pot in the trailer grew by 40 plants.

The residents here did have some medical marijuana cards, but deputies say they didn't have enough cards for all the plants to be legal under state law.

Nobody was arrested at the scene and it'll be up to federal prosecutors whether to file any criminal charges.

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