3 arrested in marijuana grow operation bust - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

3 arrested in marijuana grow operation bust

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - An elaborate marijuana grow operation is busted by the San Diego Police Department in a Sorrento Valley warehouse.

Officers say on Monday around 3 p.m. they executed a search warrant on a warehouse in the 9800 block of Mesa Rim Road and seized hundreds of marijuana plants, opium, several high-powered rifles and handguns and thousands of dollars in cash.

"A fan system, a lightening system, very sophisticated watering system, a back up generator system in case power went out," said Lt. Paul Connelly.

CBS News 8 was the only news station on the scene for the raid. We tried to speak with the man who police say is the mastermind behind the operation, Mark Gillingham, 57. He refused to comment. Police say he owned Progressive Screenprint as a cover for the marijuana grow.

"He is growing it to illegally sell on the streets," said Connelly.

Officers say two of the suspects were in the process of cultivating the marijuana when they made the bust. A total of three people were arrested.

Police say despite the effort to conceal the marijuana smell, they received complaints.

"Because it was such a large grow it was putting off such a strong odor that was obvious to citizens something illegal was going on," said Connelly.

We spoke to business owner in the same warehouse complex. They tell CBS News 8 they were suspicious but never reported it to police.

"It's a T-shirt printing company and I just noticed a few boxes of T-shirts but doing the math just in the back of my head maybe it's not T-shirts," said DK3 Studio owner Dave King.

The neighbor says he kept to himself, didn't smell marijuana so he didn't complain to police but noticed recently Gillingham wasn't discreet.

"In the last couple of months I saw some people carrying bags out," said King. "I had no idea what's in there but I'm not an idiot."

Police say inside the warehouse Gillingham knocked down the walls to six suites and used nearly 7,000 square feet to operate the marijuana grow. They also found living quarters in the warehouse.

"The operator definitely knew what he was doing. It's an operation based on everything he did to stand up the operation. It's obvious he has been at this for quite some time," said Connelly.

Neighboring businesses tell CBS News 8 they were shocked to see a raid this large go down in their complex and Gillingham be the focus of the bust.

"He was a perfect neighbor, he keeps an eye on the place, he keeps the property up very nicely. If there is anyone next to my studio is out here screaming and yelling," said King.

Gillingham and the two other suspects who were not named were booked in the San Diego County jail facing drug charges involving cultivating marijuana and possession of opium.

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