Rocky Butte ‘pot farm’ shocks neighbors

To look at this beautiful home – with its stunning view of Portland – one wouldn’t guess it hid a marijuana-growing operation. But, wait until you see the photos Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Deputies took inside this working indoor pot farm …

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office officials say this home on Rocky Butte hides a full-blown indoor pot growing operation.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
The beautiful home, perched on a lofty section of NE Rocky Butte Drive, seems like an unlikely headquarters for a major indoor marijuana-growing operation. Probably, that’s why it was chosen for the purpose.

But, December 21, about 8:00 a.m., an ongoing investigation conducted by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Special Investigative Unit (SIU) came to a head when their vehicles rolled up the steep incline and stopped at 2915 NE Rocky Butte Drive.

“Along with agents from the Regional Organized Crime Narcotics Task Force,” reported MCSO Public Information Officer Lt. Mary Lindstrand, “SIU deputies executed a search warrant at this residence, and also at 17717 NE Pacific in Gresham. That evening, agents also executed a search warrant in Vancouver, Washington.”

Officials say the suspects had been operating a sophisticated indoor-pot growing operation – as this photo will attest. MCSO photo

During the morning raids, Lindstrand said, agents discovered and seized approximately 300 mature growing marijuana plants, 100 pounds of processed marijuana, scales, and packaging material.

“The ‘grow’ operation in Vancouver turned out to be the largest of them all. In total, the estimated street value of the marijuana has been set at $1.5 million,” stated Lindstrand.

According to Multnomah County Department of Corrections (MCDC) records, 36-year-old Tu Ngoc Tran, 49-year-old Minh Ngoc Le, 32-year-old Minaty Nguyen, and 36-year-old Huy Nguyen were arrested and taken into custody. All four were charged with at least three counts: Possession, Delivery, and Manufacturing of Marijuana – this last being a Class A Felony.

In addition to the indoor pot farm, MCSO SIU deputies and agents also recovered nearly 100 pounds of bagged marijuana. MCSO photo

Lindstrand told us that the subjects involved had used medical marijuana cards along with fraudulent documents to camouflage their marijuana-growing activities from Law Enforcement.

When we visited the Rocky Butte neighborhood on the day after the arrests, neighbors either shooed us away from their doors, or had little to say. “It’s just really hard to believe,” said one neighbor, speaking through a cracked-open door, asking not to be identified. “They keep up the house well, but we almost never see them other than to drive to and from the house. This truly is unbelievable.”

Caught up in the pot raid, and charged with Possession, Delivery, and Manufacturing of Marijuana — then released — are (A) 36 year old Tu Ngoc Tran; (B) 49 year old Minh Ngoc Le; (C) 32 year old Minaty Nguyen; and (D) 36 year old Huy Nguyen. MCDC photos

Children impacted by raid
“As a result of these arrests, two children of the arrested subjects between the age of 4 and 8 were taken into protective custody and released to DHS,” Lindstrand pointed out.

In addition to the drug charges, Tu Ngoc Tran and Minaty Nguyen are each charged with two counts of Child Neglect I, a Class B Felony – each charge carrying $20,000 bail, MCDC records show.

“During the investigation, four vehicles were seized that were used for drug transportation as well as drug profits,” Lindstrand said. “The vehicles were a Porsche Cayenne SUV, an Acura MDX SUV, a BMV M3, and a Lexus 300.”

According to MCDC records, Minh Ngoc Le and Huy Nguyen were released the same day they were arrested, on December 21, without comment. Tu Ngoc Tran and Minaty Nguyen were released the following day, December 22, with the notation “Court Ordered Release”.

-5 Even more suspected pot is laid out for drying in the background. More grow operations may be uncovered, as this investigation continues, authorities say. MCSO photo

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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