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$2-million indoor pot farm found in Diamond Bar, police say

October 11, 2012 | 12:48 pm

Pot farm
Authorities have discovered a marijuana cache with an estimated value of $2 million in a Diamond Bar house and believe it could be part of an operation run by two men recently arrested.

Binh Ly, 43, of Rosemead and Thanh Chiem, 45, of San Jose, were arrested Oct. 3 after Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators found marijuana plants in two homes in Diamond Bar and one in Hacienda Heights. More than 2,000 plants and 20 pounds of finished marijuana product, with an estimated value of $6 million, were seized, Sgt. Jim McGee of the sheriff’s narcotics bureau said Thursday.

In the latest development, McGee said investigators armed with a search warrant discovered 983 plants Wednesday in a fourth house in the 21000 block of Malad Court.

Investigators also found electrical lines owned by Southern California Edison had been illegally tapped for the marijuana-growing operation. McGee said an estimated $5,000 worth of electricity had been diverted to power the lighting, fans and water filtering systems required for the operation.  

The two men were arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and utility theft. Ly was released Oct. 4 after posting $100,000 bail. However, Chiem, a Vietnam native, is being held for possible immigration charges, McGee said.

All of the homes involved in the operation were rented under the same name by different people, McGee said. The owners, whom he said appeared to be immigrants, were unaware of the marijuana activity, he said.

McGee urged homeowners to carefully investigate the backgrounds of renters and regularly check the condition of their rental properties.

He said the marijuana growers had caused extensive damage to the homes with mold, water damage and holes cut through the walls and ceilings for electrical wires.

“These people who rent their houses out do so innocently and don’t check on them,” McGee said. “They are shell-shocked” when they find out about the drug activity, he added.

McGee said the area of Diamond Bar, Walnut and Hacienda Heights seemed to have a higher-than-normal concentration of marijuana-growing operations.

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--Teresa Watanabe

Photo: Marijuana plants are grown indoors. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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