Photo: Rancho Cucamonga grow site
A small indoor garden it was not. What grew to be nearly a jungle of illegal marijuana plants at two Rancho Cucamonga residences resulted in the arrest of the growers late on the morning of January 16th.
Ultimately, it was not the pungent smell emanating from the homes, but the electricity being stolen from Southern California Edison that led law enforcement personnel to uncover the covert operations. The SBCS’s Gangs / Narcotics Division’s Marijuana Enforcement Team joined police from the Rancho Cucamonga station in the case.
Per Rancho Cucamonga city legislation, “all marijuana / cannabis businesses are illegal in Rancho Cucamonga”, with citizens being permitted only the indoor cultivation of “six or fewer plants per home for personal use”. The suspects did not have any business licence from the city of Rancho Cucamonga, nor a licence from the State of California to cultivate cannabis.
At the two residences, on the 6900 block of Canosa Place and the 13900 block of San Dimas Lane, however, a total of about 2560 cannabis plants were being grown.
Their hidden DIY greenhouses used electricity siphoned off from the grid, bypassing the Southern California Edison electrical meter, to power the operations. Running a marijuana operation, particularly at a commercial scale and as was the case at these Rancho Cucamonga homes, uses an extremely high level of energy for services like lighting, air conditioning, fans, exhaust blowers and air filtering systems to control the climate inside the facilities.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff said in a statement that such rerouting of electrical current, in addition to being illegal, could easily have caused an electrical short and engendered a fire or an explosion, thus endangering the surrounding residential community.
Personnel from Southern California Edison assisted authorities in the investigation and assured the disconnection of the faulty wiring and electrical bypass. Representatives estimated the loss of revenue due to the stealing of electricity to be at several thousands of dollars.
Southern California Edison disconnected electrical power at the two residences and red-tagged them, indicating them unsafe to occupy. The identification of the suspects in the incident remained undisclosed by police, pending further investigation.