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2 arrested on suspicion of running illegal marijuana growing operation in the San Gabriel Valley

May 13, 2011 | 10:18 pm

Two suspects have been arrested in connection with an illegal marijuana cultivation operation in the San Gabriel Valley after authorities seized two caches of plants and dried marijuana with an estimated street value of $2.5 million, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.

Joseph Hsu, 30, a suspected member of the Chinese street gang known as Wah Ching, was arrested Thursday on narcotics and weapons charges by deputies from the Asian Gang Team in the sheriff’s Operation Safe Streets Bureau.

Pauline McDonnell, 22, of Redlands also was arrested on narcotics charges at Hsu’s rented condominium on Huntington Drive in San Gabriel.

After a monthlong investigation spurred by a tip, deputies discovered two indoor marijuana growing operations at Hsu’s home and in a commercial building fronting as a consultant’s office on South Date Avenue in Alhambra, authorities said.

More than 440 plants, about 150 pounds of dried marijuana, hydroponic cultivation equipment, two handguns and a shotgun were seized at both locations, deputies said.

Sgt. Steve Kim of the Asian Gang Team said Wah Ching is a major Asian gang known for narcotics and weapons trafficking, along with extortion and other crimes.

"We believe the suspect was operating this grow to benefit his gang," Kim said.

He said marijuana growing operations are "pretty common" in the San Gabriel Valley. Last year, his team seized nearly $5 million worth of marijuana at five locations in the area.

Hsu, a felon previously convicted of a narcotics charge, was booked at the Temple City sheriff’s station. His bail was set at $35,000. McDonnell’s bail was set at $20,000.


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-- Teresa Watanabe