Chronicle Staff Writer
Walnut Creek, Calif. — A car crash and a routine traffic stop led the California Highway Patrol to seize more than 800 marijuana plants, worth an estimated $2 million on the street, during three raids in Vacaville, Walnut Creek and Martinez, the agency said Wednesday.
Four Bay Area men have been arrested and the investigation is continuing, the CHP said.
The case began to unfold on Nov. 25 when the CHP responded to a solo car crash on Meridian Road near Interstate-80 in Vacaville. Derek Hood, 28, of Walnut Creek was arrested on suspicion of DUI and drug charges. Hood was in possession of approximately 6 pounds of marijuana, according to CHP spokesman Marvin Williford.
Then, on Nov. 29, a CHP officer pulled over the driver of a rental truck for allegedly blowing through a stop sign near the scene of the earlier accident. The officer noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from the truck, according to the CHP, and, with back-up assistance, arrested the driver, Brian Brossoit, 24, of Lafayette, and a passenger, Joseph Rhodes, 23, of Walnut Creek, for possession of the illegal drug.
Authorities believe Hood, Rhodes and Brossoit were involved in the same drug operation.
The arrests led to a search of two residences on Nov. 30.
At a compound in the 500 block of Weber Road in Vacaville, officers uncovered what they described as a sophisticated pot-growing operation that included a packaging room and a camouflaged power supply. Only a small amount of marijuana was located, but there were signs that several thousand plants had been grown there, Williford said.
A second search warrant was served on a Walnut Creek residence, where officers found evidence of a growing operation and about 300 marijuana plants. Investigators believe those plants came from the Vacaville property.
The ongoing investigation led officers to a third search on the 1800 block of Menesini Place in Martinez, where they uncovered more pot plants, cash and growing and processing equipment, Williford said. That raid led to the arrest Jeremy Donagal, 29, of Lafayette.
So far, authorities have recovered more than 800 marijuana plants, with an estimated value of $2 million, Williford said. He said more arrests may be made.
Copyright 2007 The San Fransisco Chronicle
Calif. police uncover 800 pot plants after car crash