The house was built something like a fortress. On the southeast edge of Santa Rosa the properties are somewhat larger with lots of open space, with a few junkyards in the area as well. 3705 Finley is right at the curving corner of Finley Street and Fresno Avenue. The residents put metal grating on the windows to secure them. Video cameras were installed in several places for surveillance. And there were guns inside – an AK47 and an SKS – a vintage Soviet made semi-automatic rifle that was the precursor to the AK47. Ten other firearms were also on hand, and there was also a pretty extensive marijuana growing and processing operation.
Several people were there Monday morning, October 13, hired on to assist with the processing. According to the Santa Rosa police, one of the men, 32-year-old Isidro Bello-Rosales, got into an argument with his employer about compensation. The argument got heated enough that Rosales decided to run away, apparently without any payment at all. What followed his exit, according to him, was a hail of gunfire.
Rosales was not shot, but hearing the guns, he called 911 and reported the incident, and said he thought someone else had been shot. Santa Rosa Police rushed to the scene, and found Rosales a couple of blocks away, at the corner of Fresno and New Zealand, at the entrance to a newer, upscale housing development. He told the officers where the shooting took place, and what had happened. After taking his story, officers searched Rosales and found a bit of methamphetamine on him.
The officers then turned their attention to the potential murder scene at Finley with the aim of finding the shooters and possible victims. Their approach revealed a much calmer environment than they expected. One woman was outside, and just inside the door they found several more women and two children. (All subjects were described as Hispanic.) Four men, either on a rest break, or surrendering to the incoming officers, were found lying on the floor next to a bedroom and the laundry room. Surrender is more likely, as they were right next to several open boxes with one-pound bags of processed marijuana. The men were all detained.
The next group of men were not so docile. While trying to open the next bedroom door, the officers heard people inside. After forcing the door open, it appeared the occupants had fled out the back.
Officers outside the home at that time saw two men casually leaving the house next door. The two, however, were obviously not residents of the home (later confirmed) and they – Adolfo Avendano Lopez, 31, and Martin Sarmiento Morales, 45 – were detained. Like Rosales, Morales had meth with him. With the six men in custody, and the home secured, SRPD Narcotics and Property Crimes units came on scene, and obtained a search warrant. They found 36 live marijuana plants and 230 pounds of processed marijuana, along with $14,000 in cash and the weapons.
Further investigation, and interviews with the suspects, revealed that most of the marijuana had been grown elsewhere, and brought to the location for processing. The on-site staff had been brought in and were being paid an hourly wage to trim and process the marijuana for sales. No one tired to claim it was medicinal, but then no one volunteered that he was the boss or identified any of the others as their employer either.
In addition to Rosales, Lopez, and Morales, police arrested Claudio Jimenez-Avendano, Erik Almonte-Mondragon, Sergio Sanchez-Sarmento, and a minor, who was not named by police. All were charged with cultivation of marijuana, and Morales and Rosales were also charged with possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia. Final charges will likely be determined upon further investigation and identification of the entrepreneur running the operation. Anyone with any helpful information is encouraged to call the Santa Rosa police at 707-543-3600.