Tag Archives: Eastvale Pot house

Eastvale: The Road To Rehab – Inside A Pot House

BY JENNIFER MADRIGAL

pot-house-paraphernalia

Pot House paraphernalia

Eastvale – The road to rehabilitating a pot house is a long and arduous one, costing the homeowner time and a significant amount of money in order to restore it to being habitable.

A few months ago the Eastvale Community News explained how pot houses are identified and what goes into finding one; and earlier this month we gave you a video exclusive of what the inside of a pot house looks like. But what happens after the police leave? Read on…

a-pot-house-room-retrofitted-to-accomodate-marijuana-growth

A room retrofitted to accommodate marijuana growth – a Landlord’s nightmare. (Photo Courtesy: Jennifer Madrigal)

Once a home is identified, be it through police detective work or from a homeowner calling the police, a pot house begins to be processed. The Eastvale Police Department’s Special Forces team comes in and identifies and tags evidence, takes pictures, destroys drugs in all stages of development, and clears the home of all evidence, materials, money, weapons, etc. The police then contact the city and Southern California Edison (SCE). SCE comes out and immediately shuts off the power. The city sends building and city code officials to inspect the home for mold and other contaminants. The house is then “red tagged” and deemed uninhabitable until permits are pulled and all damage is corrected.

The most common problems that these houses endure are the major modifications made to the air conditioning system, primarily to cool the attic and avoid infrared detection; mold in the ceilings, floors and walls; torn up drywall with insulation removed; pipe damage due to marijuana and corrosive pesticides being flushed in the drains; carpet damage due to “seeding” fallout; and water damage to walls and floors (both floors in a two-story dwelling). These modifications can cause significant safety risks to the structure and any occupants, and must be corrected immediately. Of course all of this is provided that the house does not catch fire due to the amping up of the electrical system to engage the high-intensity sun-spectrum lighting, and bypassing the system to avoid SCE detection and payment of electricity.

According to Tim Steenson, building official for the City of Eastvale, the city issues a variety of permits that are necessary for the safe restoration of these residences. The first permit, to regain electrical power, is kept separate in order to allow the homeowner the power needed to initiate repairs while the home is still red-tagged. Only when the electrical damages to the distribution system have been repaired and approved by SCE and the city, can power be restored.

Another important permit needed is for the actual rehabilitation of the house. This specialized permit involves the clearing of mold by appropriately trained professionals; the repair of structural damage to the home including drywall and duct work; the removal of extra air conditioning equipment and the return of standard flow; and ensuring all parts of the home are up to code and safe. Once all of these repairs are made, the city will then return to do a final inspection. If the home is approved, it can be removed from red tag status. Then the work of replacing carpets, flooring, pipes, paint, cabinetry, appliances and anything else that might have been damaged apart from the structure comes into play.

So who pays for all this damage? Homeowner insurance often has a “no criminal activity” clause, and although homeowners may be able to re-coup some of their money, they can end up being stuck with the costs. Sgt. Davis of Eastvale’s Special Forces team assigned to these grow houses, says that homeowners can try and re-sell the expensive equipment used in the process, (lights, fans, etc.) to try and make some of the money back. The criminals that leave these things behind are usually unable to come back and retrieve their equipment, furniture, and televisions, and the sale of such might allow the homeowners to make a little of the money back.

In 2012, a convicted pot-grower in Florida was presented not only with jail time, but with an electrical utility bill in the amount of $26,000 and ordered to pay. Other convictions have resulted in financial repayment to the victims of these crimes, but that is not a probable solution. Many criminals are never caught. At any rate, the homeowner is ultimately responsible, and any restitution from a conviction would be a long, long way down the road.

With all the damage that these houses endure, and the major costs associated with their repair, shutting them down before they start or when they are in their early stages is crucial. According to Eastvale Police Department’s Lt. Yates at the May 28 Safety Council Meeting, marijuana grow houses are decreasing in Eastvale. “To date we have had 55 houses seized and shut down, but where we once had three or four a week, we are now down to about one per month,” said Yates. This shows that the collaborative efforts of law enforcement and the City, as well as the awareness of the community, is working. We are driving these houses out of our city.
K.P. Sander contributed to this story.

EASTVALE: Why So Many Eastvale Pot Houses?

Plants seized during an investigation in February 2014. Picture courtesy of Eastvale Police Dept.

Plants seized during an investigation in February 2014. Picture courtesy of Eastvale Police Dept.

By Jennifer Madrigal

Eastvale – In the last few years, more than 50 marijuana grow houses have been located, investigated and ultimately shut down by the work of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in conjunction with Eastvale’s Special Enforcement Team. Many of these houses were located with the assistance of the community, who have listened and followed the “How to Spot a Marijuana House” tips and diligently called in their suspicions to the Sheriff. So while it may seem to the public that Eastvale has been inundated with “drug houses and crime”, that really is not the case.

What makes a marijuana grow house, and how do they keep ending up in our community? This is one of the most commonly asked questions with one of the simplest answers: size and availability. Eastvale has a multitude of large homes, and with the economic downturn, many of these homes were left abandoned or were quickly purchased by investors. Unfortunately, a lot of these owners didn’t take the time to do the proper background checks on tenants or follow up with property checks, to ensure that their homes were being used properly. According to Sergeant Davis of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, “Often after a bust, when we try to locate the renters (if they were not there and arrested at the time) we find that the owners were given inaccurate paperwork, fake identifications and were paid in cash. As a result, the trail goes cold.” The actual homeowners are then responsible to pay for all the damages done to these homes. As Davis describes, “These homes get ruined inside with mold and water damage and an absolute disregard for the property”.

The large Eastvale houses enable the full process of marijuana cultivation to occur because there is sufficient space. According to the Assistant Police Chief of Eastvale, Lieutenant Mike Yates, the homes in Eastvale have the room to run the entire operation. “There are even a few guys that were setting up these houses to prepare them to become grow houses by circumventing the electricity and thus providing the processors with a ‘pre-made’ facility,” he says. Bypassing the electricity causes an extreme fire hazard, which was witnessed firsthand when a property on Craigburn Circle in Eastvale caught on fire and was later discovered to house over 1,100 marijuana plants. Besides being a fire and safety hazard, the circumventing of the electricity also robs Edison of thousands of dollars in stolen electricity and destroys the house. The electronics inside the walls of the home are ripped out by cutting into the dry wall. The criminals rip open the plastic and tap into the electric system, basically running their own electric panels and bypassing the original system. According to Davis, it’s difficult for Edison to spot these low or non-using homes because the grid is so large, and so many of these homes are on solar power and using very little electricity, or are abandoned or for sale.

The process of tracking down these houses, identifying and confirming them, and ultimately shutting them down, is something that the Eastvale Special Enforcement Team has gotten pretty good at doing. Sergeant Davis explained how he was fortunate enough to go on a ride-along with two set team officers who have a unique way of finding these grow houses – with their noses. They basically drive around with their windows open and are able to smell the marijuana. They then narrow down the smell to a few houses and call Edison to check the grid for bypass possibility. Sure enough, they have been correct. Search warrants have been issued and houses have ultimately been busted.

But what happens to the criminals after the bust? Are they being prosecuted, and where are they coming from? Yates has noticed that many of the suspects are from the San Gabriel Valley and cities like Monterey and Alhambra are drawn to Eastvale by the size of the homes and because, “there simply is enough space to house an entire operation”. Many different people are involved in each house and they often can be seen coming and going. While a house is being investigated and activity is being monitored, every effort to catch the criminals in “the act” is made. Davis explains that if the suspects are in the house during the bust, they are arrested and the case is turned over to the DA for prosecution. However, if they are not in the home, an investigation is continued to try and locate suspects; but when owners are not aware of who is really renting it becomes difficult. When they are found and arrested, suspects are being prosecuted for felonies and doing jail time – suspects like family members Vinh Cuomg and John Hoa Tran, who were both arrested on Jan. 14 for cultivating marijuana at an Eastvale home on Iris Court. Officers seized 398 marijuana plants, five pounds of processed marijuana and packaging material. Additionally, electricity was being bypassed around the meter, causing a serious fire hazard and resulting in approximately $6,000 a month in stolen electricity. Both were charged with felony counts of marijuana cultivation, denied probation, and are awaiting sentencing.

So while the Eastvale Special Enforcement Team continues to canvas neighborhoods looking for these houses and driving them out of our community, Sergeant Davis wants the community to know that they all appreciate the diligence of the Eastvale citizens in calling in tips and being aware. With a community as savvy in social media as Eastvale is, and with the commitment of its citizens to maintaining a safer community, hopefully these marijuana houses will soon become a trend of the past.

 

EASTVALE: 295 Marijuana Plants Seized in Illegal Marijuana Grow

eastvale police curfew

(Image courtesy : City of Eastvale)

INFORMATION FROM RIVERSIDE SHERIFF DEPARTMENT PRESS RELEASE:

During an ongoing investigation related to illegal residential marijuana grow operations in the city of Eastvale; officers assigned to the city of Eastvale’s Special Enforcement Team obtained new information regarding a residence being used for an illegal marijuana grow operation. A follow-up investigation was initiated and a search warrant was obtained for the residence. Residence was located in the 6000 Block of Massey Way, Eastvale.

On Thursday, March 20, 2014, at 5:30 p.m., the search warrant was served by officers assigned to the city of Eastvale’s Special Enforcement Team. During the service of this search warrant, no subjects were detained inside the residence. Officers discovered the residence had been modified for the sole purpose of cultivating, processing and packaging marijuana for sales.  Officers seized 295 marijuana plants.  Additionally, electricity was being bypassed around the meter, causing a serious fire hazard and resulting in approximately $5,000.00 a month in stolen electricity.

The Eastvale Police Department is committed to the safety of the citizens of Eastvale and will be vigilant in investigating all crimes of this nature. The investigation is ongoing and we are reaching out to the public and asking anyone with information about this incident to contact Officer Javier Morando at the Jurupa Valley Station at 951-955-2600.

EASTVALE: 961 Marijuana Plants Seized in Eastvale Home

By: Jennifer Madrigal

Plants seized during investigation. Picture courtesy of Eastvale Police Dept.

Plants seized during investigation. Picture courtesy of Eastvale Police Dept.

EASTVALE- Yongchao Huang was arrested Tuesday Feb. 25 at the 6400 block of Gold Dust St. in Eastvale during a search warrant where Eastvale Police seized 921 marijuana plants, one pound of processed marijuana and packaging material.
The 32-year-old San Gabriel man was detained inside the residence and arrested after Eastvale’s Special Enforcement Team discovered the residence had been modified for cultivating, processing and packaging marijuana. Huang was also accused of bypassing the home’s electricity meter, stealing about $7,600 worth of energy a month and causing a serious fire hazard.
Huang has been charged with cultivation of marijuana and grand theft of utilities.

This is an ongoing investigation and anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Officer Javier Morando at the Jurupa Valley Station at (951) 955-2600.