A SWAT team and agents of the task force that includes several law enforcement agencies served a search warrant at a house at 27918 Sharon Court, according to task force agent George Negrete, discharging flash-bang grenades and tearing down the door to the garage of the home in the semirural neighborhood southeast of city limits.
The raid was part of a sting the included a warehouse on the 8300 block of Linne Road. Both locations were identified by an anonymous tip, Negrete said Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Negrete said agents found 425 marijuana plants inside the house, including starter plants to plants that were between 2 and 3 feet tall, and 302 mature plants inside the nearby warehouse.
“Two of the (house’s) bedrooms were active grows, and there was equipment set up in two other rooms,” he said, “and the garage was converted into a grow, but there were no plants in there at the time.”
The search began about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday with a blockade of Sharon Court, a short street with large houses and manicured yards.
According to Sgt. Tony McKee of the Stockton Police Department, which is part of the task force along with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, the SWAT team’s presence was standard procedure.
“It’s very dangerous,” McKee said. “Guns and drugs often coincide with one another.”
However, no weapons were recovered at the Sharon Court house, Negrete said.
Once the SWAT team forced its way inside the house, Negrete said investigators found 44-year-old Michael Johnson hiding in a space between kitchen cabinets and the ceiling. He told officers he was there to watch a dog for the man who rents the house, a man officers identified as Raymond Wiggins.
Johnson was arrested and charged with cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, resisting an officer, conspiracy and utility theft. He is expected to be arraigned in San Joaquin County Superior Court in Manteca at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25.
The reported renter of the property, Wiggins, is reportedly working to surrender himself, Negrete said. But Wiggins has yet to say when he plans to turn himself in, Negrete said.
Authorities believe the allegedly illegal marijuana grow has been going on for two years at the Sharon Court address and a year at the Linne Road warehouse, Negrete said. He did not discuss how the house was setup retarding the utility theft.
He said the warehouse had the appearance of an abandoned building in the front, but the back part of the building housed the 302 mature plants. He said the plants would have been ready for harvesting in a couple of weeks.
According to Negrete, the drugs seized have an estimated street value of around $900,000 or $1 million. The marijuana was likely going to be sold in the Bay Area, where both Johnson and Wiggins originate, Negrete said.
He said the marijuana grow was one of the bigger ones to be uncovered recently in the Tracy area, but shutting down its operation would likely not stop the sale of illegal marijuana in Northern California.
He said investigators are still looking into whether the two men allegedly involved with the Tracy operation were working with other organizations.
• Jon Mendelson contributed to this report. • Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or email@example.com.