SAN JOSE -- A tip led the Santa Clara County drug enforcement squad to more than $700,000 worth of marijuana at a pair of grow houses rigged with wiring to bypass the electricity meter to avert suspicion, officials said.
Hai Minh Vo, 37, and Tiffany Huynh, 41, were arrested Thursday without incident at their residence on Rue Lyon in San Jose. They are believed to be involved in the grow houses on the 1300 block of Trestlewood Drive and 4300 block of Crescendo Avenue, which were both modified to serve the sole purpose of cultivating marijuana, according to Santa Clara County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jose Cardoza.
"We got an anonymous tip a month ago, and from there the Marijuana Enforcement Team investigators started a surveillance operation," Cardoza said.
He said it was "not your average small operation."
"This took time, this took planning," he said. "It involved bypassing power lines and more than one home. It was a sophisticated setup."
While Cardoza said the electrical modification was likely done "so it so doesn't alert power companies to additional power brought into residence," a PG&E spokeswoman said they don't investigate usage unless alerted by authorities or a complaint of tampering.
"There are a lot of home-based businesses, and a lot of people telecommuting," said Monica Tell of PG&E. "Even though there might be a huge spike in a bill, we can't assume it's a grow house, and we respect the privacy rights of our customers."
However, she said "people have gotten very creative in terms of how to tamper with equipment" and added that ultimately it puts them in danger of causing a fire or even an outage in the area.
Between the two homes, 307 plants were seized along with 45 pounds of processed marijuana. Cardoza said each plant translates to a pound of pot, which in turn has a street value of $2,000.
Vo and Huynh were arrested on suspicion of unlawful marijuana cultivation, possession of marijuana for sale, conspiracy and theft of utilities.
Cardoza said the county's marijuana squad usually works on tracking down outdoor operations in rural areas during the grow season from spring to early winter, focusing on in-house crops in the off months.
Last year, the team removed more than 91,000 plants and 500 pounds of marijuana from grow operations, 22 of which were outdoors and seven indoors. They made 21 arrests and confiscated nine guns.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.
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