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El Monte police make back-to-back pot busts

June 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
El Monte police make history with back-to-back pot busts.

Six days after seizing thousands of marijuana plants in their city, officers uncovered an even bigger pot growing operation in a warehouse in the city next door.

Thursday night's marijuana haul was the largest ever for El Monte police- $3 million worth, and it is all in the trash.

Saturday's massive marijuana raid led detectives to the elaborate setup hidden in a 13,000-square-foot warehouse in the city of Industry.

"The amount of money that's involved in this operation here is big time," said El Monte Detective Ralph Bateres. "This is a very sophisticated operation. These are the type of locations that we like to take down."

Investigators say the suspects spent more than $1 million to create the high-tech marijuana farm hidden within a massive fa?ade. The suspects dug an eight-foot deep tunnel to illegally tap into the electrical, siphoning $100,000 worth of power every month.

"We know that this operation has been here for about one year," said Bateres. "And they have done about two or three groves."

Investigators believe an Asian organized crime ring may be behind the two farms. The building manager said the tenants always gave her the runaround when she tried to check on the property.

"It's incredible," said Nina Kraut. "You see this in the movies or on TV and you just never realize it really does happen. I am flabbergasted, I really am."

El Monte detectives believe the suspects are linked to several other locations within Los Angeles County. They are now following up on several leads.

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