900 pot plants seized from Santa Rosa warehouses

Officers discovered 900 marijuana plants Wednesday concealed inside several units of a warehouse during raids at a Santa Rosa business park, police officials said.

No one was arrested, and officers encountered no tenants as they began searching six units in neighboring warehouses on the 900 block of Piner Road at about 9 a.m., Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Chad Heiser said.

Authorities asked nearby mechanics, lumber dealers and other shops to temporarily lock up before they broke down the doors.

The warehouses are across and down the street from a Piner Place shop where officers pulled 180 plants two months ago from a business called Audio Legends. In that case, the tenant was arrested.

"Marijuana is a very lucrative crop. People are looking for larger areas to grow more plants and make more profit," Heiser said.

Marijuana cultivation has proliferated at business parks in the city, said Heiser, who runs the narcotics unit. As indoor marijuana gardens became prevalent in some residential areas, so did complaints about the skunky smell of pot, increased traffic and other concerns.

"They are getting out of residential areas where there tend to be more complaints," Heiser said. "It is something we're spending more time on this year."

A patrol officer who once worked with the narcotics team started noticing certain kinds of traffic and other signs of cultivation at the Piner Road business park. He started watching the businesses and reported his findings to the narcotics unit, Heiser said.

On Wednesday, about 20 narcotics officers from Santa Rosa, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration searched three units each at 950 and 966 Piner Road.

They found more than 900 plants in various stages of growth, the largest 3 to 4 feet tall, spread among five units, Heiser said.

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