SAN JOSE (KTVU) -- Six people, including the parents of three juveniles, were arrested Wednesday in connection with an elaborate plan that used the suspects' own children in a multi-million dollar pot grow ring.
Kim Chai Le, 38, and Dean Minh Trinh, 39, were taken into custody at their San Jose home on Winsted Court following a raid at seven other houses in San Jose that police said housed illegal marijuana plants. Police said 1,872 pot plants were confiscated during the police sweep. They say each mature marijuana plant has a street value around $3,500.
The police activity was sparked by the discovery in April of an illegal marijuana grow found at a rental home located near Cottle Road.le arrested in elaborate San Jose pot grow bust
The homeowner and property manager said they met with the suspects and their three kids when deciding whether to rent the home to the family. Police ended up confiscating 700 plants from the home in the 300 block of Bodega Way. Police say they were tipped off to the operation after a neighbor grew suspicious that he never saw any lights on at the home.
San Jose Police launched a large-scale investigation which resulted in the early-morning raid Wednesday involving the department’s entire Metro Unit at more than half a dozen houses in South San Jose and Evergreen area, including a rental home in the 700 block of Dubanski Drive.
"They had a family so I thought it was really good," said homeowner Susan Ra. "I'm so shocked. I cannot believe it!"
Ra’s property manager says she met with Le, Trinh and their three children and was beyond shocked to hear of the illegal operation inside the home.
Audrey Garcia lives in the neighborhood and says she walks her dog by the home almost every day.
"There's really not a lot of activity out of that house," she said. "So, I'm pretty shocked."
Police say suspects are getting more sophisticated will illegal pot grows and point to incidents like this as proof.
In one of the homes, the suspects had installed a timer system, overhead heat lamps and drywall covered a sliding glass door so the activity could go undetected by those outside the residence.
The suspects also maintained the homes' lawns and appearance -- part of an effort to disguise the illegal activity going on inside, police say.
"They keep the lawns nicely manicured (and) the paint jobs on the homes are nice," said San Jose Police Officer Albert Morales. "And they have nice cars."
Le and Trinh did not say much while they were being escorted in handcuffs to a police van. Trinh did say he has lived in the home on Winsted Court for 4 years. It was not immediately clear if bail has been set for the suspects. Investigators say their three children are now with other family members.
California voters could decide this fall to legalize marijuana for recreational use after a coalition collected some 600,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.
If approved, the initiative would allow adults 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes and would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants. If voters OK the measure, it would also place a 15 percent tax on retail sales of the drug.
San Jose Homes Searched in Illegal Pot Grow Bust:
700 block of Dubanski Drive
6000 block of Hancock Avenue
2000 block of Dennywood Court
500 block of Glenburry Way
5000 block of Marshwell Way
3000 block of Norwood Drive
100 block of Winsted Court
300 block of Los Pinos Way
KTVU reporter Maureen Naylor contributed to this report.