JUNE 9, 1997

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Big drug busts in Woodinville, Redmond

marijuana buds

Marijuana dries on coat hangers tacked to the walls of a rental house east of Woodinville. Police collected 21 coat hangers, each worth roughly $2,000 street value, from an upstairs bedroom and 61 marijuana plants from a downstairs room.
Photo by Andrew Walgamott/Northwest News.

drug busts by Andrew Walgamott
More than 140 marijuana plants, $35,000 worth of drying buds and a half-pound of packaged marijuana and assorted other drugs were seized in two related drug busts near Woodinville and Redmond last week. Two men are in jail and detectives with the King County Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) are eager to question another man and woman in connection with the pot growing operation.
   According to Sgt. Steve Sowers, DEU, the bust began with a tip from the property manager of a home in the 15200 block of 223rd Avenue NE east of Woodinville. Suspicious behavior and scents led him to call the police. After a detective visited the residence, a reasonable cause search warrant was served on the four bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home, June 3.
   Police found 61 marijuana plants in various states of health in a basement growing room. Mylar paper covered the windows, reflecting heat and light from three grow lamps overhead, and a tank of carbon dioxide stood in a corner. Following their noses, officers found $35,000 (street value) worth of pungent, drying buds hanging from 21 coat hangers in an upstairs bedroom. Hangers were thumbtacked to the walls of the room like decorations. Officers said each hanger was potentially worth $2,000.
   Police also seized papers and documents to link a 26-year-old Woodinville man renting the home to the crime scene. Later, they arrested the man. He was found while checking his mailbox as Sowers and Det. Steve Tucker drove past after cleaning out the home. The officers arrested the man and questioning led them to believe a 26-year-old Redmond man police had arrested earlier on outstanding warrants had set up the growing operation at the Woodinville house.
   Police obtained a search warrant for the Redmond man's home in the 10900 block of Avondale Road Tuesday night. They found 81 robust marijuana plants in different stages of growth, a half-pound of packaged marijuana, prescription pills, cocaine, steroids, and paraphernalia. Police are looking for the man's girlfriend and another roommate and have seized the house.
   Sowers said that both men arrested had minor criminal histories. He said the operation in the second house was more professional with better looking plants. Det. Tucker said that the Woodinville man was having second thoughts on his part of the operation. Though the rent was free and the man enjoyed some of the product, he couldn't invite any of his friends over while the plants were there, according to Tucker.
   He also said there is a fallacy among marijuana growers. "If they stay under 100 plants, [they think] they won't get in trouble. We're coming across many guys growing 98 or 83 plants," Tucker said.
   Charges against both men are expected in the next month.