A monthlong, multi-agency investigation into illegal indoor marijuana grows and electrical bypasses led to the arrest of two men.
On Friday, Visalia Sgt. Paul Esquibel released details about the investigation which included officers from Visalia’s Narcotics, Special Enforcement, Youth Services, and Property Crimes units, along with Tulare Area Regional Gang Enforcement Team and Tulare police officers.
Two search warrants were served on Friday, one was at a home in the 2800 block of North Church Street in Visalia and the other was at a home in the 2000 block of Lacovetti Avenue in Tulare.
During the searches, officers found “a large amount” of cash, two safes, drugs and evidence of drug sales. All of it was seized by officers, according to Esquibel.
Crime scene photos released by Visalia police showed hundreds of marijuana plants in both homes along with chemicals used to treat and grow the plants.
Detectives say Jing Shi Zhang, 35, and Bin Mai Liang, 36, were linked to the drug dens. The men were arrested and booked into the Tulare County Pretrial Facility on suspicion of cultivating marijuana, theft of utilities and conspiracy.
The investigation mirrors the recent arrest of two men accused of operating a large indoor marijuana grow in Tulare. However, it’s unknown if Friday’s arrest is related to the arrest of Yongyan Lin, 44, and Guang Ye, 56.
Visalia and Tulare police departments hadn’t responded to Times-Delta’s question regarding the cases early Saturday.
Just before noon on July 27, Tulare firefighters and police were called to an apartment in the 2500 block of Arciero Drive, not from Lacovetti. Both homes are located near Plaza Del Lago.
When crews arrived, they immediately got to work putting out the blaze. To stop the spread of flames, firefighters had to pull down drywall in the garage. An initial investigation showed the fire may have started near an electrical panel and traveled to the attic.
While at the scene, officers discovered that most of the living space in the house had been converted into a marijuana plant grow site. Grow lamps were powered by illegal connections that skipped the electric utility meter, according to Tulare Sgt. Eddie Hinojosa.
Officers spoke with neighbors and viewed surveillance video to identify a suspect’s vehicle that was seen leaving the home when the fire broke out. Officers searched the area and found the vehicle after the driver circled back.
Two men were inside the car — Lin and Ye. Both men are from out of state, according to Tulare Sgt. Eddie Hinojosa. The suspects were arrested on suspicion of grand theft, conspiracy, cultivation of marijuana, and drug sales.
Sheyanne Romero covers Tulare County public safety, local government and business for the Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register newspapers. Follow her on Twitter @sheyanne_VTD. Get alerts and keep up on all things Tulare County for as little as $1 a month. Subscribe today.
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