Friday, April 20th, 2007 at 3:01 pm in Uncategorized.
The Insider loves a new learning experience, so when the opportunity came along to view an indoor pot farm recently raided by the Countywide Narcotics Task Force, you better believe we D.A.R.E.’d to get educated.
The site of the raid, like many of the marijuana farms targeted by authorities in the past two years, was an unassuming single-family home in the North County, a boxy number across the street from the Westlake Shopping Center in Daly City.
The circumstances were typical of many recent raids: A home owner had rented the place out, and tenants converted it into an indoor greenhouse.
Of course, the Insider had been warned that the party was over: the task force had already swept through the home Wednesday, hacking the stalks off 450 marijuana plants and stuffing between $800,000 and $900,000 worth of bud into burlap sacks. In fact, we wrote about it.
The whole operation reportedly took four to five hours, and sounded thorough enough. So, imagine our surprise when we walked in the door and were greeted by a bud the size of a small fist (see our photographic example here from Wednesday).
The Insider knelt down to inspect the evidence: Was it a trap? Had the task force rigged a camcorder to capture curious journalists?
We set it aside and made our way downstairs, where the bulk of the reefer had been planted and cultivated. Further adding to our surprise, the remaining plastic grow beds were alive with damp buds of high-grade THC-sprinkled marijuana.
Now, the Insider is no mathematician, but our journalistic familiarity with narcotics led us to a conservative conclusion: Law enforcement had left at least a thousand dollars worth of marijuana behind.
When we climbed upstairs to inspect the living room, we found another chunk of ganja placed conveniently on the coffee table, lying in a bowl beside scattered copies of glossy women’s magazines.
What in Willie Nelson’s good name was going on here?
For answers, we turned to Cmdr. Mark Wyss of the narcotics task force.
“The only thing I can say is that what we break down, grows… Clearly a bud can drop off here or there,” he explained.
Sure, but what if the bits that fall to the ground have a street value in the hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars?
“It’s kind of a large-scale operation,” said Wyss. “We don’t go through with a fine-toothed comb to try to pick up every leaf… What is left behind is left with the property owner to manage.”
Nonetheless, the Insider felt a little high when Wyss thanked us for bringing the matter to his attention.
“We are diligent already,” said Wyss, “but because of the information you gave me, we’re going to be even more diligent about it.”
Wyss could not confirm the resale value of the raid’s leftovers but noted that the amount that the Insider observed is “miniscule” compared with the heaps of pot which law enforcement stuffed in an undisclosed numbers of burlap sacks, then hauled away to “a specific location.”
This year, the task force has already busted five operations and confiscated 3,699 plants, said Wyss. Last year, the task force raided 10 indoor farms, which yielded 9,278 plants.
That’s quite a lot of evidence, and the Insider couldn’t help but wonder where “the specific location” might be located.
Wyss declined to specify said “specific location,” but replied, “You can’t just take wet marijuana and store it in the Hall of Justice. There’re molding issues, there is a strong odor.”
But, we wondered, is the evidence stored in perpetuity, feeding the munchie-fueled daydreams of the county’s budding Cheeches and Chongs?
Wyss assured us the contents of the burlap sacks are disposed of at the conclusion of a suspects’ case in San Mateo County Superior Court. So, in a manner of speaking, once the wheels of justice grind and dispense of the pot farmers, their harvests are ground up and dispensed of in a large garbage disposal. Under no circumstances is the evidence burnt, said Wyss.
When asked if members of the narcotics task force are hired with an eye for their firsthand experiential familiarity with some illicit substances, Wyss chuckled and implied that the Insider had spent too much time in the “Action/Adventure” section at the video store.
“We’re all law enforcement professionals here,” Wyss explained. “(Officers) are not here for any past experience or use with drugs, by no means… That’s completely out of the question.”
In commemoration of today’s date, 4/20, the Insider thanks Wyss for, err, hashing out the subject with us.