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Man Arrested in Home Pot Raid

Drugs: Hundreds of plants are found in Chatsworth house, the second such local discovery in a week. Finding of pipe bomb halts search.

September 26, 1997|CLAIRE VITUCCI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

CHATSWORTH — For the second time in a week, sheriff's narcotics detectives on Thursday raided a Chatsworth house and found hundreds of marijuana plants growing indoors, authorities said.

A search of the house about 11:40 a.m. in the 22500 block of Fern Ann Falls was temporarily halted after detectives found a pipe bomb in a bedroom night stand. The sheriff's bomb squad covered the foot-long pipe with sandbags and detonated it in the house's front yard.

No one was injured, but about 10 people were evacuated at the nearby Green Ridge Stables, said Det. John Cater of the sheriff's narcotics bureau.

"It surprised us when we recovered it; we kind of stumbled upon it," Cater said. "We had to back out of the house."

Officials arrested James Wright, 41, who rented the house, on suspicion of cultivating and possessing marijuana and possessing a destructive device. Wright was taken to the Santa Clarita Sheriff's Station Jail, with his bail set at $250,000, Cater said.

Authorities said they suspect Wright is connected to four other suspected marijuana growers who were arrested last week. Last Wednesday, narcotics detectives found nearly 1,800 plants, dried marijuana and more than $100,000 in cash in houses in Chatsworth, Agua Dulce, Northridge and a Canoga Park mobile home.

Victor Paul Dejoria, 53, and his wife, Linda Rae Dejoria, 54, both of Canoga Park; Wayne Anthony Iannola, 35, of Northridge and David Joseph Clark, 40, of Agua Dulce, were arrested on suspicion of cultivation charges.

Dejoria, Iannola and Clark were arraigned last Friday and pleaded not guilty. A preliminary hearing has been set for Wednesday.

Despite last week's arrests of his alleged cultivation partners, there was no evidence Wright had attempted to destroy evidence or halt the operation, Cater said.

The cultivation operation at the Fern Ann Falls house--in an area just north of the Los Angeles city limits that is sometimes called Twin Lakes--was identical to that found at the Needles Street house in Chatsworth on Sept. 17, officials said.

In Thursday's bust, a living room and bedroom were filled with marijuana plants ranging in size from 6 inches to 6 feet tall. The plants were growing in 5-gallon containers, placed on wooden trays on tile floors. The plants were in 5-gallon pots irrigated with water containing fertilizers. Each mature plant can produce about one pound of flowering buds, worth about $4,000 on the street, Cater said.

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