40,000 Watt Grow House Brings Child Endangerment Charge – April 20, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Police removed the pot plants and cultivation equipment from the garage at 645 California Avenue, revealing the complex, intertwined and dangerous homebrew wiring and ducting. The numerous building code violations led to a power cutoff. KLH | Eye

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

CALIFORNIA AVENUE – Another big, blatant grow house on California Avenue was taken offline last week, this one coincidentally just up the street from a similar big-time bust of just a few weeks back.

The raid netted the usual haul of plants, processed pot, lights, ballasts, fans and a couple of suspects, but also included a few unusual wrinkles – a child endangerment charge against one of the accused and a mobile processing facility in the backyard which was hauled away and impounded.

On Wednesday, April 13, in response to neighbor complaints, officers from the Arcata Police Department’s Special Services Unit, assisted by the Humboldt County Drug Task Force and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office served two search warrants on residences where illegal marijuana cultivation operations were suspected to be taking place.

Korwyn Jensen

Julie Robbins

The first search warrant was served at a residence at 645 California Avenue. Officers discovered a large- scale indoor marijuana cultivation operation both inside and underneath the home. Nearly 1,500 marijuana plants and more than 15 pounds of processed marijuana along with an array of cultivation equipment – including 28 1,000- and 1,500-watt grow lights – and nearly $3,000 in cash was seized.

Julie Robbins, 29, of Arcata, was arrested and booked on charges of possession of marijuana for sale, operating a house for the manufacture of drugs, cultivation of marijuana and child endangerment.

Korwyn Jensen, 32, of Garberville, was arrested and booked on charges of possession of marijuana for sale, operating a house for the manufacture of drugs and cultivation of marijuana.

APD officers secure some of the California Avenue house's growing equipment – lights, hoods, fans filers and green lighting ballasts – on a trailer to be taken away for evidence. The house sported 28 1,000- and 1,500-watt grow lights. Arcata's Prop 215 ordinance allows 1,200 watts of grow lighting for medical cannabis cultivation. KLH | Eye

The second search warrant was served at a residence at 2185 Second Road in McKinleyville, a house owned by William L. Rice and Judith L. Mitchell-Rice of Eureka. The residence was associated with the Arcata home.

A small marijuana growing operation was discovered at the McKinleyville residence as well. Nearly seven pounds of processed marijuana along with additional cultivation equipment was seized. No arrests were made at that location.

City of Arcata building inspectors discovered numerous building code violations at the California Avenue location, necessitating the immediate disconnection of electrical service.

A Sheriff's Office truck hauls away the 18-foot trailer used for cannabis processing which had been in the backyard.

The California Avenue house is owned by  Susan E. Shores of Palo Alto. APD Chief Tom Chapman said that the crawlspace of the home had been heavily modified to accommodate a grow, with approximately 40,000 watts of unsafe lighting and wiring in constant use underneath the house in which two children lived. No permits had been issued for the elaborate tangle of wiring and ducts servicing the growing areas.

“The electrical situation in this house is one of the worst jobs that we have seen in terms of unsafe, exposed wiring,” Chapman said.

“It was appalling to see a four- and seven-year-old living in this situation, that only seemed like a matter of time before something happened,” Chapman said.

On top of that “practically the entire home” had been utilized for cannabis production to some degree. Not even living spaces were cannabis-free. “There were bongs on the table where the kids were eating,” he said.

The sketchy electrical lashups and immersive drug-production environment added up to APD’s first child endangerment charge for a cannabis growing suspect. “This is the first case that we have done grow house-wise where we encountered small children,” Chapman said. “To arrest, we have to have probable cause that these kids were in danger. Conditions were bad enough that we felt it warranted this particular charge.”

The District Attorney’s Office will make the final decision on charges against the two suspects.

Out back of the home, a windowless, 18-foot cargo trailer was in use as a cannabis drying facility. It was towed away by the HCSO and impounded. To cart off the huge inventory of grow equipment, APD filled up the Park Ranger truck, a van and a flatbed trailer.

As officers packed up grow lights, ballasts and fans, area residents gathered across the street and gave the officers the thumbs-up sign and called out, “Thank you!” One neighbor said the house’s garage door hadn’t been open in five years.

Det. Sgt. Todd Dokweiler said other suspected grow houses are under investigation, with more search warrants likely to be served soon.


Tags: ,

3 Responses to “40,000 Watt Grow House Brings Child Endangerment Charge – April 20, 2011”

  1. over it

    Interesting story. It would also be a great story to hear how these fare in the District Attorney’s office. Mostly charges end up getting dropped to virtually nothing. I’m not proposing we should punish growers with prison terms but a few months in the county jail might cool things down a little. With no penalties resulting from busts like these we will continue to see people coming here to blow it up. Of course people in the business follow the consequences and behave accordingly. Gallegos’ lax weed policies have encouraged behavior like this all over the county.

  2. over it,
    Get over it! The quasi-legal state of Cannabis cultivation makes the proposition of unappeallable prosecution appear rather dismal. The California Supreme Court appears to apply the Prop 215 very liberally, as, I opine, it should. Prerogative Right is a fundamental right, requiring strict scrutiny in limiting or depriving; in the case of choosing ones own medicine, the burden of proving legitimate government interest in limiting or depriving is not met. Hello, it is the twenty-first century; Cannabis/Hemp is not dangerous, except to profit margins of big pharmaceutical, and other, corporations and psyche doctors. A whole generation, or two, harbors great animosity towards their government, over this issue. Anyone would can read a dictionary, and many who can not, knows the definition of Liberty. Kids grow up and see alcohol use, which is accepted, and see Cannabis use, which is not; the result is kids get programmed, at a young age, not to trust the government, especially, the police. The state of affairs is a violation and embarrassment to the very letter and spirit of the Law of which We herald in vain, We are no more a monument to Liberty; we have plotted against Her and She has left merely a skeleton of a remnant……..there is a way to revive Her….to bring Her back!

  3. […] is what I get for not perusing the Arcata Eye for the last few weeks.  This story is a couple of weeks old, but it may represent a first.  It pertains to an indoor grow bust in Arcata for which the […]


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.