Two Large Scale Illegal Indoor Marijuana Grows Shutdown in Los Banos

Los Banos Talk

On March 2, 2021 the Merced County Sheriff's Office was working with the Los Banos Police Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the Los Banos Fire Department to serve and conduct two search warrants of homes suspected of illegal marijuana growing operations indoors. The two houses were located in the area of Alyssum Way and Crystal Court, within the city limits of Los Banos.

While conducting the

investigation, the two homes were found to be diverting power from PG&E. These indoor growing operations require a great deal of power, because like any other plant, marijuana still requires UV light to conduct photosynthesis to grow and survive. People often grow marijuana indoors as a means to hide their operation from law enforcement and neighbors, but without the benefit of natural sunlight, growers must use UV lights and significant amounts of power to grow their crops indoors. This results in their homes consuming significantly more energy than a typical home would, and prompts PG&E to begin an audit. Data of the energy consumption allows for sufficient evidence to establish the reasonable suspicion necessary to obtain a search warrant for the illegal growing operation. These operations exhibit similar consumption patterns and markers, that make it fairly easy to correctly predict if a house is indeed growing marijuana indoors.

Both homes were condemned due to the safety and health hazards found on the premises. The homes were found infested with significant amounts of mold. This is a photograph posted from the MCSO Facebook page exhibiting some of the mold that was discovered.

It is not uncommon for indoor growing operations like this to become infested with mold. Due to the large quantities of plants, there is a great deal of watering required. Plants also produce release water as part of their photosynthesis process. This is why you see dew on grass etc. in the morning. Normally this moisture is evaporated by the sun in the morning, but when grown indoors this heat and moisture combination stays trapped in the home. People will try and open windows and use fans to eliminate some of the moisture, but it's rarely sufficient.

In total law enforcement took 2,753 plants from the premises and over 10 lbs of finished product for eradication.

Marijuana both recreationally and medicinally are legal in the state of California, but it is still a controlled and regulated substance. Just like alcohol is legal, but homemade moonshine is not, so are these illegal growing operations. These operations avoid paying taxes, and aren't subject to the same regulations and labeling requirements as a legal operation would be. They often are used to fund criminal and gang activity, and are quite different than their legal counterpart. These operations contain thousands and thousands of dollars worth in plants and product, that can attract criminals to the neighborhood. The current laws and ordinances require that dispensaries and growing operations are guarded with security and surveillance measures in place, and that they are located away from children and schools for their protection safety.

These Are Pictures Taken from the Merced County Sheriff's Office's Facebook Page

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