Calif. police, DEA seize nearly 7,000 pot plants in 24 hours

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By Angela Woodall and Harry Harris
Inside the Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. — Raids conducted by Oakland police netted nearly 7,000 marijuana plants and two suspects in little over 24 hours.

Officers who raided an East Oakland house Monday discovered an indoor marijuana farm with more than 4,475 plants filling every room of an elegant two-story home, authorities said Tuesday.

Officers responded about 4:30 p.m. Monday to the home at 10320 Pearmain St. after a neighbor called police to check about a resident's well-being, Lt. Kenny Whitman said.

Police saw two huge bags of marijuana seeds in plain view, Whitman said.

Then they looked inside the house.

"It was unbelievable," Whitman said. "The entire house upstairs and downstairs was laden with plants, including the bathrooms and kitchen. Literally there was no place inside for anyone to live."

The growing system was "the most elaborate system I've seen in 25 years," he added.

There was no furniture in the new, spacious 2,700-square-foot, two-story house that looks out of place in the industrial area.

The entire house was devoted to marijuana-growing, Whitman said, adding that neighbors reported seeing people at the house only about once monthly.

Windows were sheet-rocked, electricity was bypassed for growing purposes and there was a sophisticated ventilation system inside, said Special Agent Casey McEnry, spokeswoman for the San Francisco branch of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Federal agents arrived on the scene because an Oakland officer called in to the raid was assigned to the DEA task force.

"We assist in dismantling something that large," McEnry said.

Agents estimated the value of the plants at $3.5 million. No arrests were made and the investigation is continuing, McEnry said.

Agents seized a Mercedes Benz parked in the driveway and are still trying to determine the identity of the homeowner.

Federal agents were on their way Tuesday night to Oakland for a second time in as many days when police at 7:50 p.m. seized about 2,000 marijuana plants from a West Oakland indoor pot farm. They took two suspects into custody.

Police found marijuana plants growing in every room of every floor of the small warehouse space in West Oakland, Whitman said.

The warehouse was disguised as a photography studio, he said.

The Crime Reduction Team arrived and kicked in the door of the building, Whitman said. There police, after being called in by Officer James Fisher, found an eleborate setup of plants being grown, he said.

The setup was very similar to the earlier seizure in East Oakland -- not 24 hours earlier," Whitman said.

Copyright 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers

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