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Pot-growing advocate arrested in Northern California

June 24, 2011 |  6:07 pm

A man who tried to make Oakland into a center for growing medical marijuana was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of running illegal pot farms in Sacramento and Sutter County with thousands of plants, federal authorities said.

Yan Ebyam, 33, was arrested Tuesday in Sacramento and has since been released on a $150,000 property bond, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento. Eleven other people allegedly involved in various aspects of growing and processing the marijuana also were arrested.

Ebyam is a controversial figure in Oakland, where he converted large warehouses into medical pot production centers and even hired unionized workers. His above-board business there, however, reportedly fell apart last year after thefts, financial problems and pressure from federal authorities on the city to stop allowing such facilities.

The criminal complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court in Sacramento describes massive marijuana-growing efforts at a former tomato farm in Rio Oso in Sutter County and at a former wholesale commercial florist in Sacramento.

Undercover federal drug agents noted very few flowers seemed available at that Sacramento florist and surveillance flyovers confirmed their suspicion of pot plants there, the complaint states.


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-- Larry Gordon