APD Raids Three Aloha Way Cannabis Grows – November 29, 2011
Note: Three things appear below: The story that appears in the Nov. 30, 2011 Arcata Eye, with updates; the Arcata Police Department press release on which it is based; and a Sept. 24, 2008 Arcata Eye news story which includes elements common to the latest story. – Ed.
Kevin L. Hoover
ARCATA – Swamped with promising tips about neighborhood grow houses and with no special events or other major crimes to draw away staff resources, APD continued its weekly series of cannabis busts last Wednesday with a trio of takedowns.
It’s been three years since police raided a grow house on Aloha Way off West End Road. Last Wednesday, Nov. 23, they were back in the subdivision known as Plum Village, harvesting another clump of low-hanging grow house fruit.
And in another case of threeness, all three homes – 1135, 1135A and 1163A Aloha Way – are owned by Jesse Wedemeyer of Arcata, who also owned a grow house at 1191 Aloha Way raided Sept. 4, 2008.
In addition, Wedemeyer owns three other houses on the block, at 1100, 1177, and 1205 Aloha Way. He could not be reached for comment.
APD, with assistance from the Humboldt County Drug Task Force and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office served all three warrants simultaneously.
Illegal marijuana grows were discovered in all three homes. The cultivation operations ranged in size, with the largest housing over 750 plants. Officers found over 25 pounds of processed marijuana at one of the homes packaged in individual one pound bundles. In addition, officers found over one pound of concentrated cannabis and a small amount of suspected cocaine during the searches.
The following suspects were arrested in connection with the illegal growing operations:
• Gary Ramon Quillen, 31, of Arcata, cultivation of
marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale.
• Daniel Lee Sansom, 30, of Arcata, cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, maintaining a house for the manufacture of a controlled substance and possession of concentrated cannabis.
• Dante E. Magnani, 27, of Arcata, cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and maintaining a house for the manufacture of a controlled substance.
• Caitlin M. Enright, 24, of Arcata, cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale.
APD Det. Sgt. Todd Dokweiler said that the homes had been crudely adapted to cannabis cultivation via the usual means – holes knocked through walls to route wiring and irrigation, large ventilation holes cut in ceilings and electrical panels hacked to add capacity. A number of ballasts had been located in the homes’ attics.
“The electrical here was probably in the top 10 for how much wiring they’d done,” Dokweiler said.
City building inspectors discovered numerous building code violations at all three residences, which necessitated the immediate disconnection of electrical service.
Despite their proximity and common ownership, he had no information that the grows were related. “It’s not clear that that’s what’s going on,” he said.
Dokweiler said the air on Aloha Way was thick with green cannabis stench apparently emanating from other grow houses in the area. “There were definitely other grows in the vicinity,” Dokweiler said. “We’ll be looking at them.”
He said fresh grow house tips come in every day, and that he intends to maintain the enforcement rate. “It’ll keep up,” he said. “We still have a long list.”
City of Arcata
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THREE GROW HOUSE WARRANTS SERVED
- Gary Ramon Quillen 31 of Arcata, 11358 H&S cultivation of marijuana and 11359 H&S possession of marijuana for sale.
- Daniel Lee Sansom 30 of Arcata, 11358 H&S cultivation of marijuana, 11359 H&S possession of marijuana for sale, 11366.5 H&S maintaining a house for the manufacture of a controlled substance and 11357(a) H&S possession of concentrated cannabis.
- Dante E. Magnani 27 of Arcata, 11358 H&S cultivation of marijuana, 11359 H&S possession of marijuana for sale and 11366.5 H&S maintaining a house for the manufacture of a controlled substance.
- Caitlin M. Enright 24 of Arcata, 11358 H&S cultivation of marijuana, 11359 H&S possession of marijuana for sale.
Kevin L. Hoover
ARCATA – Contrary to popular assumption, area law enforcement is doing something about Arcata’s grow houses – they just aren’t issuing press releases about it.
On Thursday, Sept. 4, the Humboldt County Drug Task Force raided a rented home at 1191 Aloha Way in Plum Village off West End Road. There, they found an elaborate illegal marijuana cultivation operation containing 250 plants in 1,000 feet of canopy area. The cannabis was confiscated.
The residence, owned by Jesse Wedemeyer and rented to Boris Lunin, 26, had been illegally modified in violation of the Uniform Housing Code. Police called in Arcata Fire and City building officials, and the following violations were noted:
• Electrical wiring to transformers and grow ights installed without a permit, with possible overload of the house’s electrical meter.
• An open electrical box without a proper cover.
• A non-approved ladder to the attic.
• An illegal ventilation sysem.
• The attic in use as a third floor.
Per routine, the City contacted PG&E, which deactivated the house’s electricity pending correction of the illegal modifications.
According to Building Official Dean Renfer, the house was still without power last Friday, but the resident and owner have been in contact with the City and apparently intend to make the repairs so that electricity may be restored.
First, a top-to-bottom inspection of the house’s electrical system must be performed, work permits issued, the repairs made and the property re-inspected.
Should corrections not be made within 30 days of a Sept. 9 warning letter, the City Council will be asked for a nuisance abatement order. If issued, the City could contract for repairs and bill the property owner.
Lunin was arrested on a charge of felony marijuana cultivation and lodged in the Humboldt County Correctional Facility. He refused to comment on the alleged grow or his arrest but offered other observations.
“Your newspaper is trash and full of lies,” Lunin said. “If I felt that you were a real journalist, I’d talk to you, but I don’t. I’m asking you to leave me alone. Don’t prey on the weak and miserable.”
Wedemeyer was more expansive. He said he’d just gotten back from eight months in India and had been unaware of Lunin’s agricultural conversion of the Aloha Way home. He said he had Lunin sign a letter admitting that he was responsible for the grow and that he would repair the damage to the house. He said his tenant is moving out on Oct. 1.
Trinidad Electric has been contracted to bring the wiring back up to code. “This is fixable,” he said.
While traveling in India, Wedemeyer said he was approached by a friend who’d read of Arcata’s grow house travails in the Hindu Times. “Aren’t you from Arcata?” the friend asked.
Like many, Wedemeyer said high cannabis prices, which compel people to abuse Prop 215 and illegally grow for profit, would plummet if marijuana was legalized.
Meanwhile, he’s seeking spiritual solace. “To me, the solution is love and prayer,” Wedemeyer said.