Officers from the Special Investigations Unit of the Tracy Police Department searched a residence at 2965 Whigham Court on Wednesday, June 19, where they found 235 marijuana plants in various stages of growth in the house, according to Sgt. Alex Neicu.
Hai Tuong Nguyen, 31, is wanted in connection with this grow operation, and a second raid that police conducted on June 11 at a residence at 1845 Kagehiro Drive, Neicu said Wednesday outside of the Whigham Court house.
Police cut down 475 mature plants from at least 11 different growing areas inside the Kagehiro Drive home.
Nguyen is wanted on charges of cultivation of marijuana and power theft for his alleged role in the two operations. He has known connections in Tracy and the San Jose area.
The setup on Whigham Court was described by Neicu as “sophisticated” however he noted that the operation was partially dismantled because the alleged growers “probably knew we were coming.”
“Basically they have a timer that’s set to the grow lights and fans that are on the plants,” he said. “They had a lot of pots where the plants were just literally a few inches and then they can grow to be three or four or five feet.”
From the front door, tarps were seen hanging from the ceiling to the floor, and two ventilation tubes at least three feet in diameter were running from the downstairs through the ceiling of the second floor and into the attic.
Officers were seen removing large air filters and lighting from the house.
Baljit Hari, who lives on the block, said the homeowners moved out about eight months ago, and that he would see “some people come and go, but the curtains were always drawn.”
“I’ve seen some like Chinese people over there, and when I talked to them, they were doing the lawn and stuff,” Hari said. “A man said he had some type of Apple repair shop and he was like ‘We are renting the house.’”
Hari never noticed any smell related to marijuana, but said the home’s air conditioning was constantly running.
“I’ve seen the A/C running at like weird temperatures outside, like when it was cool and breezy outside, but their A/C is still going on,” he said. “There used to be this Honda car and an Audi A4 that was parked outside but they would never stay long.”
The Special Investigations Unit also searched a residence at 970 Cherry Blossom Lane on Saturday, June 15, where officers found 381 marijuana plants, according to Neicu.
Hieu Cong Nguyen. 19, and Ahn The Ngo, 29, are allegedly involved with that grow operation and a second grow spot police raided at 3741 Norfolk Drive on June 12.
Officers were tipped off about the home on Cherry Blossom Lane when someone recognized the men’s pictures, which were paired with a story in the Tracy Press on Friday, June 14, about the Norfolk Drive raid.
The two men are wanted on charges of cultivating marijuana and utilities theft for their alleged involvement in the two operations. They have known connections in the San Jose area.
Marijuana found at the Cherry Blossom Drive home has an estimated street value of $200,000, according to Neicu.
The illegal setup bypassed the power meter, which caused a loss of about $20,000 for Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Neicu said.
The recent raids have all occurred at rental homes, according to Lt. Mark Duxbury.
He said signs of illegal grow operations include an unkempt yard, garbage cans not being put each week, flyers accumulating on the porch and people only staying for short periods of time.
“Once someone from the neighborhood starts seeing these signs, we hope to be receiving additional tips,” Duxbury said. “Any time there is an increase in rental properties, that’s what they are using them for, so that’s probably the case.”
Anyone with information about the three men wanted in connection with these raids, or other active grow houses should contact Tracy Crime Stopper.
Anonymous tips can be made by calling 831-4847; texting TIPTPD to 274637 with the tip; or online at www.tracycrimestoppers.com.
• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.