03/28/2007

Calif. drug raid yields weapon stash

By Harry Harris
Inside Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. — Growing and selling marijuana and dealing other drugs out of your house can be dangerous. According to police, Raul Felix Rodriguez was not taking any chances against possible rivals and thieves.

Guns were kept in different rooms of his house at 1009 89th Ave., surveillance cameras monitored the front where a metal gate was also a barrier and three pit bulls roamed the property, police said.

He apparently did not consider the hazards of police interest in his suspected illegal activities.

The police Gang Unit raided the house Tuesday morning, seizing more than $250,000 worth of marijuana plants and packaged product and finding a dozen guns -- among them assault rifles -- in almost every room, including a bathroom.

"It was like an armed camp," said gang unit commander Sgt. Randy Brandwood.

Two flak jackets and a bulletproof vest as well as a small amount of cocaine also were found in the two-story $600,000 home that featured granite floors and counters, Brandwood said.

Besides Rodriguez, 33, police also arrested his girlfriend, Sandra Garcia, 41. Both refused to talk topolice.

The 7 a.m. raid ended a weeklong investigation by gang unit Officers Rob Roche and Eric Milina that started with a tip.

Brandwood said they got information Rodriguez was growing and selling marijuana out of the house as well as methamphetamine.

It appeared selling drugs was his main source of income, as police did not find any pay stubs or tax returns, Brandwood said. He did have three SUVs, a pickup truck and two motorcycles at the house, police said.

Police suspect he was selling the drugs to friends and others, including gang members. Border Brothers gang graffiti was spray painted on walls of nearby businesses.

Brandwood said when police got to the house, they had trouble getting through the metal gate in front. Rodriguez came to an upper floor bedroom window upon hearing the commotion and was held at gunpoint until officers finally made entry.

Inside the bedroom, police found an assault rifle next to the window, a semi-automatic pistol on top of a nightstand and a revolver at the bottom of the stand, Brandwood said.

Other guns, including more assault rifles, sawed-off shotguns and high powered rifles, were found in unused bedrooms and other rooms, including a bathroom, and next to a computer in another room, Brandwood said.

The flak jackets were found in a lower closet crawl space and a machete was found on a floor nearby as well, police said.

The 148 marijuana plants, most of them at least 2 feet tall, were found in different rooms of an add-on structure in the rear. Each room had its own ventilation, lighting and watering systems and sacks of plant food also were recovered, Brandwood said.

More than a pound of packaged marijuana was found as well as about a quarter ounce of cocaine and a few hundred dollars, he said. No methamphetamine was found at the house, police said.

Rodriguez and Garcia were arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale, cultivation of marijuana, possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics while armed with a firearm and possession of assault rifles. Rodriguez also was wanted in San Bernardino County on narcotics charges and a $50,000 arrest warrant for driving under the influence.

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