GILROY, Calif., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Authorities in California said a marijuana grow operation with more than 1,000 plants was disguised as a furniture store.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office Marijuana Eradication Team and Gilroy police announced Gilroy resident Phuc Nguyen, 39, owner of Gilroy Furniture & More, was arrested Thursday after a months-long investigation into illegal activity at his store.
Investigators said the front of the store was filled with furniture including couches, tables and chairs, but none of the objects were actually for sale and the store was never actually open.
"Furniture store coming soon," a banner in the store's window read.
Deputies said the back of the store contained more than $2 million worth of cannabis, including more than 1,000 live plants and 50 pounds of processed marijuana.
"We don't see a lot of storefront operations with a large-scale illegal enterprise going on in the back," Sheriff's Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup told KNTV. "I think in the movies and on TV they like to think it happens all the time, but in reality, we just don't see that level of sophistication."
Stenderup said Nguyen also allegedly bypassed a utility meter to steal $80,000 worth of water and electricity to cultivate the plants.
Nguyen was charged with theft of utilities and illegal cultivation of marijuana for sales. He was ordered held in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Police: Fake furniture store was front for marijuana grow-op
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Posted 29 January 2015 - 03:20 PM