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Deputies Seize Marijuana Worth More Than $8.5 Million

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The real value of the house on Mount Shasta Drive was inside. Sheriff's deputies early Friday morning found 1,447 marijuana plans there with an estimated street value of more than $8.5 million.

It's seemingly become a trend over the past couple of months, yet another million-dollar marijuana grow house found in a quiet residential neighborhood.

Lin Jie, 40, and Han Wan Cheng, 45, were arrested on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and other drug-related charges at their residence in the 400 block of Mount Shasta, investigators said.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department investigator Jerry Franchville said he did not know if the duo were connected to Asian organized crime, which has been linked to other million-dollar marijuana busts in the Inland Valley.

But an investigation into whether any of these high-profile busts are connected is ongoing, he said.

Norco real-estate agent Christopher Paul represented the sellers of the 2,400-square-foot home belonging to Jie and Cheng.

"They were not typical Norco buyers - this is Horsetown USA," Paul said. "These guys came in wearing sports coats and driving a nice car."

The duo also spoke no English, but their agent was bilingual, Paul added.

"I assumed they were speculators," Paul said.

The two purchased the two-year-old home a few days before Christmas for $720,000 and closed escrow in January, Paul said.

Franchville said an anonymous tip led to the bust. The West County Narcotics Task Force and the Jurupa Valley Gang Task Force got a search warrant for the house at 2 a.m. Friday.

Franchville said the home was remade into a nursery to cultivate marijuana, and all rooms except one were used to nurture the pot in different growth stages.

"In my 8 years in the department, it's the largest (bust) I've seen," Franchville said.

The marijuana-cultivation system inside the home included 70 1,000-watt sunlamps, more than 200 gallons of liquid fertilizer, 35 wall fans, 12 industrial-sized air purifiers and 70 power box converters.

A drip irrigation and water- recycling system was also installed in the house, deputies said.

More than $17,000 worth of electricity was stolen over a three-month period, deputies said.

Some neighbors were shocked at learning of the arrests.

"The house was that close, and we didn't even know it," said Norma Faucett, 74, who was doing yard work several houses away.

Other neighbors were unsure if the house was inhabited because they never saw people go inside or leave.

"As far as we knew, the house was vacant," said Phil Allison, 41, who lives just up the street.

Chester Nawrocki, 65, a retiree who has lived in the neighborhood for more than three decades, remembered seeing the vehicle traffic.

"A lot of people were driving by," Nawrocki said. "I never noticed anyone at the property during the day."

Paul described the area as a quiet street and nice neighborhood.

"I would have never guessed," Paul said about the drug bust.

Jie and Cheng were booked into Robert Presley Detention Center.

Their bail amounts were $500,000 each, according to the Sheriff's Department's Web site.

The men are set to appear in Riverside Superior Court on Tuesday, the Web site said.

News Hawk- User 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: DailyBulletin.com
Author: Wes Woods II
Contact: wes.woods@dailybulletin.com
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Website: DailyBulletin.com - Deputies seize marijuana worth more than $8.5 million
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