Following their noses, Glendale police were lead to a room behind a store on Honolulu Avenue and found a sophisticated hydroponic marijuana operation.
“We smelled it,” said Det. Toby Darby.
What they smelled were over 300 marijuana plants varying in sizes and variety. Five suspects were in custody late Wednesday night as officers began to investigate the incident.
The plants were being grown in rooms behind a clothing store at 2534 Honolulu Avenue in Montrose.
“[The operation] was part of the store,” Darby said.
The clothing store was allegedly used as a front for the apparent illegal operation.
Darby had walked by the store and noticed the smell.
“I knew there was a growth [of marijuana] in the area,” he said.
And he noticed the store was often closed, something that was unusual a retail store closed during the Christmas season.
Darby said it was a Glendale police officer that noticed the pungent aroma of marijuana plants in the area. That led to an investigation, which lead to a warrant and ended Wednesday night with the discovery of the growing operation and arrests.
In one room the alleged suspects had a nursery where young plants were nurtured. There were labels in the pots indicating what type of marijuana was contained.
A constant heat lamp was aimed with care to produce artificial sunlight as the bubbling filter of the hydroponic hummed under the planting table.
In another room were the strong sturdy plants. Large buds hung on a hanger to dry. Those plants that had already been cultivated were lying in a pan ready for whatever the growers had planned.
It was too early in the investigation for Darby to determine where the plants were to be sold, either to a dispensary, to individuals or even street gangs.
Darby could not estimate how much the marijuana was worth on the street .
“If you look at what [marijuana] sells for, from $2,000 to $7,000 a pound, it can be pretty profitable,” Darby said.
Glendale Water and Power were at the location on Wednesday night to determine if the suspects had tapped into a power source. At press time it had not yet officially been determined if or how the operation had been powered.
“There are a lot of these places in Glendale, just because you may not smell them doesn’t mean they aren’t there,” Darby said.
He encourages community members to be aware of certain activities that seem suspicious.
“Look out for cars coming to [a place] only at nighttime or a storefront that doesn’t look right,” he said.
Anyone who has information about the Honolulu Avenue location or other locations they find suspicious can call the We Tip line (800) 782-7463. Calls are kept anonymous.