GARDEN GROVE — Investigators are seeking the public's help in finding two men suspected of growing high-quality marijuana with a street value of more than $500,000 inside a house.
Police are searching for Kurt Martin Hasselbrink, 32, and Robert K. Tagupa, 37, who detectives say were cultivating more than 350 plants in the 11600 block of Gilbert Street, said Investigator Ron Eschavarria, with the special investigations unit.
The plants were discovered Tuesday after an ember from a neighbor's chimney started a roof fire at the suspects' house, Eschavarria said.
"This is really high-grade stuff," Investigator Bill Whalen said. "These guys definitely were not amateurs. They definitely knew what they were doing."
Inside the house, about 20 marijuana plants were growing in a bathroom. In two bedrooms, some 50 plants were in their mid-stages of growth. And the main operation was in the garage where 1,000-watt overhead lighting, insulation and ventilation ducts maintained 300 mature plants.
The house windows were covered with cloth, and Fiberglas insulation on walls installed around the plants sealed in the smell, Eschavarria said.
"The house is in a quiet neighborhood," he said. "This was a surprise to a majority of the neighbors."
Both suspects are wanted for marijuana cultivation and pirating about $14,400 worth of electricity to run the center. They apparently rigged the wiring of a nearby electric pole and tapped power from the line, officials said.
Tagupa, an electrician from Huntington Beach, served several months in jail in 1990 for running a similar operation in Buena Park, police said.
He is described as 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He may be driving a red, two-door hatchback car, Eschavarria said.
Police this week also raided a storage rental under Hasselbrink's name in Los Alamitos where they recovered equipment similar to that in the Garden Grove house.
Hasselbrink's lawyer told police his client "is not willing to surrender," Eschavarria said.
Hasselbrink, whose last known residence was in Los Alamitos, is described as 6-foot-2, 160 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. He is believed to be driving a black, 1990 Jeep Cherokee with the license plate number 2SFW710.
Detectives ask anyone with information to call (714) 741-5704.