The Turlock Police Department and allied agencies raided a warehouse in Turlock that was being used for an illegal cannabis growing operation.
The raid resulted in the arrest of five individuals and the confiscation of more than 4,000 marijuana plants in a warehouse owned in part by former Congressman Jeff Denham.
Detectives with the Turlock Police Department Special Investigations Unit secured a search warrant for the warehouse at 680 D Street after obtaining evidence which led them to believe that an illegal marijuana grow was taking place inside the building, said Turlock Police spokesman Sgt. Russ Holeman in a news release.
The search warrant was served around 7 a.m. Wednesday by the Turlock Police Department’s SWAT Team with the assistance of the Ceres Police Department SWAT Team and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.
Detectives located nearly 4,000 marijuana plants, over 100 pounds of processed marijuana, several ounces of butane hash oil, three firearms and small amounts of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine during the search.
The warehouse that was raided was listed as the site of a potential cannabis grow operation in an application submitted to the City of Turlock by Kings Happy Farm. A development agreement between the City and Kings Happy Farm, owned by Tommy Tran of Sacramento, was supposed to be considered by the Turlock Planning Commission at their Sept. 19 meeting.
Kings Happy Farm applied for a commercial cannabis adult-use cultivation permit with the City and submitted a lease agreement for the property at 680 D St., as the future site of the grow operation.
The property at 680 D St. is owned by a limited liability company of the same name as the address. The listed members of the LLC are Michael Hutchings and Cheryl Woodring of Salinas, along with former Congressman Denham.
The Journal was unable to reach Denham for comment.
Turlock City Attorney Doug White said that it was very unusual to have folks applying for a legal license through the Pilot Cannabis Program to be operating an illegal operation.
“I don’t see how they could hide that,” White said.
White said that Kings Happy Farm was at the beginning of the application process and had not yet undergone background checks. The City will also inspect the sites of all potential cannabis businesses, White said, but not until the applicants go through the Conditional Use Permit process.
The first cannabis organizations to go through the CUP process are expected to be considered by the Turlock Planning Commission in October.
Arrested in Wednesday’s raid of the warehouse were: Gino Nardozzo, 54, of Turlock; Sang Nguyen, 34, of Sacramento; Chris Pham, 43, of Sacramento; Andy Tran, 36, of Sacramento, and Xiaofeng Wang, 30, of Sacramento. All five men were arrested on suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance, cultivation of marijuana, and marijuana sales. The suspects were all booked into the Stanislaus County Jail.
“While the City of Turlock is in the development stages of a Pilot Cannabis Program, illegal activity, up to and including cultivation, processing, and sales of cannabis outside of established State and City of Turlock rules and regulations will not be tolerated,” said Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar. “This particular marijuana grow was a very sophisticated operation. It is clear that it had substantial financial backing. Our investigation will continue and all who are affiliated with this illegal operation may face prosecution.”
Anyone with any information about this incident is encouraged to call Detective Dominic Hernandez at 668-5550 extension 6749. You can also contact the Turlock Police Department’s Tip Line at (209) 668-5550 extension 6780 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, you can remain anonymous.
The Turlock Police Department is an active participant in the Crime Stoppers Program. Callers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-4636 and may be eligible for a cash reward.