Darien Nitahara (L) and Joseph Gilliam (R)
HOLLISTER — Police responded to a burglary alarm in the 800 block of San Benito street, only to discover an active marijuana grow operation. Two individuals — 54-year-old Darien Nitahara and 36-year-old Joseph Gilliam, both of San Jose — wound up in custody for their efforts.
On Wednesday night, police responded to a burglary alarm at a building that served as a location to several other businesses on San Benito Street. Officers discovered the smell of marijuana emanating from an open side door — as well as a suspicious person who darted back inside once he saw them.
Another suspect outside tried to distract the officers, who’d already noticed the ammunition and a large plastic bag filled with (what appeared to be) marijuana through the open door. A search of the building eventually turned up shelves of flavored syrups, boxes of plastic bottles of liquid THC, 3-liter plastic containers of what appeared to be concentrated cannabis residue, several bottles of “Everclear” alcohol, and multiple empty glass containers with concentrated cannabis residue.
One of the suspects claimed the items were for personal use. Nonetheless, police notified the Unified Narcotic Enforcement Team, who arrived with a search warrant and conducted a thorough investigation. In the process, agents discovered several machines and equipment used for the indoor growing and cultivation of marijuana.
In total, UNET seized over 5,800 grams of marijuana and 966 ounces of THC oil in 249 4-ounce bottles. Nitahara and Gilliam were booked into San Benito County Jail on charges of manufacturing an illegal substance, possession of marijuana for sale, and conspiracy.