Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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law enforcement:

Police say raid netted $4.5 million of marijuana

Metro Police released new details Friday about the raid of Spring Valley marijuana grow house, the largest indoor pot bust on record for the agency.

In all, investigators found 1,481 plants weighing about 270 pounds, a haul with an estimated street value of $4.5 million, police said.

A male and female, who were found hiding near the home, were arrested in connection with the grow operation, but authorities had a difficult time confirming their identities and booked them as John and Jane Doe.

Using a national fingerprint database, the suspects were identified as Zheng Biao Chang, 45, and Chen Hui Qing, 44, police said. They were arrested on counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell, conspiracy to violate the uniform controlled substance act, and maintaining a place for the sale of a controlled substance.

Metro Police obtained a search warrant for the home in the 3300 block of Trickling Stream Circle, near West Desert Inn Road and South Fort Apache Road, on Tuesday and began surveillance of the house Wednesday.

Wednesday afternoon, the two suspects arrived at the house in a white minivan with Nevada plates and parked in the garage, police said. At about 5:30 p.m., a search warrant was served, and Metro Police SWAT officers attempted to contact the occupants of the house with a public address system.

No one came out, but a neighborhood resident told police that they had seen someone hiding by the side of a house down the street from the targeted home.

Police went there and found the woman they had seen pull up in the minivan, officials said. While they were taking Chen into custody, they spotted Zheng hiding in some bushes nearby, according to the police report.

When SWAT officers entered the home, they were overcome with a “respiratory irritant” police said. They exited and a team with protective suits was sent in, Metro Police Officer Laura Meltzer said.

The 3,6000-square-foot home had been converted into a large-scale marijuana grow operation, and there were few signs that anyone actually lived in the home, police said.

Officers found equipment in the home used for growing plants, including high-intensity bulbs, light reflectors, electrical ballasts, timers, water reservoirs, hydroponic containers, pumps and other items, police said.

A search of the minivan uncovered $29,593 in cash, several forms of identification and multiple Social Security cards, all bearing different names, police said.

Zheng allegedly told investigators that he harvests the plants once every three months and is paid $6,000 per crop, according to the police report.

The operation was conducted by the Southern Nevada Cannabis Operation and Regional Enforcement (SCORE) team, a multi-jurisdictional task force.

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  1. Too bad there is no way to turn the illegal booty into real dollars for the city.