Investigation Leads to Largest Marijuana Bust on Central Coast
WATSONVILLE—The Santa Cruz County Anti Crime Team (SCCACT) served a search warrant at 20 Hecker Pass Road and found the largest indoor marijuana growing operation in the history of Santa Cruz County. Arrested were Cecil Tanner, 67, of Watsonville and Mark Boutwell, 63, of Salinas.
Authorities executed the warrant on December 4, at about 8:45 a.m., following an eight-month investigation. SCCACT was assisted by other area agencies: Santa Cruz County Auto Theft Task Force, Watsonville Police Investigation Unit, Monterey County Narcotics Task Force, and the Department of Homeland Security.
The location was determined to be a closed down mushroom farm that Tanner owned under the business name of Ariel Mushrooms. The farm has been out of business for several years.
Agents found six marijuana grow rooms that had been converted from the old mushroom grow rooms. They also found 120 pounds of processed marijuana buds inside those rooms that were packaged for sale.
“We located over 3600 live marijuana plants in various stages of maturity,” Santa Cruz County Anti Crime Team Sergeant Eric Montalbo said. “We also found tens of thousands of dollars worth of growing equipment.”
Police secured warrants for Tanner’s home and place of business, Tanner Development Inc. They also secured a warrant for Boutwell’s home in Monterey County. During the execution of the warrants, police produced documentation that Tanner had paid over $100,000 in electric bills for the grow operation within the last two years.
They also found 10 pounds of processed marijuana at the home of Boutwell. Both Tanner and Boutwell were charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession for sales of marijuana.
All the processed marijuana seized had a sale value of $220,000. The estimated yield of this grow operation was between $800,000 to $1,000,000 a year.
To date, this is the largest indoor marijuana grow operation that has been seized in Santa Cruz County.
Central Coast News: Largest Marijuana Grow Operation Bust in Santa Cruz County
KSBW: Largest Indoor Marijuana Grow in Santa Cruz County History Raided
Huff Post San Francisco: Santa Cruz Marijuana Bust: 3,600 Plants Seized at Watsonville Mushroon Farm