Los Angeles News

Hacienda Heights marijuana grow houses busted

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Inside a gated house in a quiet Hacienda Heights neighborhood, just a block away from the Buddhist temple, detectives say they found more than 450 marijuana plants.

"I'm pretty upset about that because we have a lot of the devotees that live around this neighborhood," said neighbor Shougen Kuo.

Authorities are calling it a significant bust. Investigators said they got a tip that 42-year-old Zhichi Xu was growing marijuana and linked him to a house on Glenmark Drive and another one about 10 minutes away on Rockhill Drive.

"A lot of these sophisticated marijuana grow houses that we're finding, they pretty much are all very similar in the way they grow the plants and the fans and ventilation systems that they have in place. They're getting more and more sophisticated," said Sgt. Jim McGee of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Behind a gate on a secluded road, deputies found more than 900 marijuana plants.

"I know what the stuff smells like, so it was amazing that there was no scent," said neighbor Rene Garcia.

Garcia said he and his neighbors live in this hilly neighborhood to stay away from crime and feel safe.

"A lot of family people over there, little kids with their parents. His house backs up right into mine, so there was nothing ever suspicious about the house. So it's kind of real weird to find out that something like that was that close," said Garcia.

Investigators said both homes were leased by Xu while the landlords were away in Asia. Officials served a warrant at his San Gabriel home and found evidence and cash there as well.

In total, they said he was running a $5 million operation with more than 1,400 marijuana plants, and he had stolen $125,000 worth of electricity to make it happen. Xu was arrested and is being held on $100,000 bail.

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marijuana, los angeles news, rudabeh shahbazi
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