A DEA spokesman in Los Angeles said two of Gegax’s relatives–Kathleen Gegax and Michael Gegax, apparently his wife and brother–were among the seven people arrested in Arizona. One underground location there had about 10,000 plants, the other about 5,000, officials said.
Investigators said they went to the house after finding an $800 utility bill, indicating excessive energy use, during their investigation of a related case in Arizona. The bill, found when deputies served a search warrant at an Antelope Valley location, apparently was issued before the site’s diesel generator was working.
Deputies also are looking for an Antelope Valley father and son in connection with the case. The son, identified as Richard F. Yerger, 28, was listed as the owner of the Lancaster-area site. Officials said his father, Richard E. Yerger, 60, may also be involved.
Sheriff’s deputies and federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents unexpectedly stumbled onto the 7,000-square-foot bunker–complete with diesel-powered lights and ventilation–while searching a nearby house.
Authorities said they believe the farm was run by the same people who were involved with operating two similar underground sites near Bullhead City, Ariz., that DEA agents raided Oct. 30, resulting in seven arrests.
Investigators identified him as Frank E. Gegax, 48, of Lancaster, owner of KMG Construction Inc. in Lancaster. DEA agents served federal search warrants Thursday at Gegax’s residence and business and said they recovered nearly $50,000 in cash from the business.
Deputies said the site apparently represented a major growing and distribution point for marijuana in Southern California.
“It’s the most incredible thing you’ll ever see in your life,” said Capt. Larry Waldie, commander of the sheriff’s narcotics bureau. “We’ve never seen anything quite as sophisticated as this.” Waldie estimated that the site on Avenue E near 40th Street East had been operating for two years.
Authorities estimated that the high-desert site discovered Thursday produced about 24,000 marijuana plants a year that, when harvested, could bring an estimated $75 million to $150 million a year on the street.
Once drug agents felt they had enough evidence, they drafted a search warrant and went to the residence on Nov. 29. They were told that it appeared there was a power diversion at the home, which is one of the common elements of a grow house.
Agents dismantled the grow house and destroyed the equipment.
Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team
Modesto Antonio Espinosa-Segredo was charged with marijuana cultivation, trafficking in cannabis over 25 pounds, theft of electricity and possession of a place for manufacturing or trafficking.
Where did it come from
Authorities said they found the electricity diversion underground, and it was not far from the air conditioning units.
In 2013, it was the scene of further controversy when it was found to be the site of a large illicit grow comprising upwards of 400 plants, with an estimated street value of €885,000! This takes “underground” growing to a whole new level.
In a case whose perpetrators were as foolish as they were audacious, police last month discovered a grow operation comprising 146 mature plants and an unspecified quantity of harvested and drying cannabis.
Sadly, it seems that masking the smell was not enough to avoid detection for long enough to harvest!
7. In a Cold War-era nuclear bunker
Due to the absurd and draconian policies still inflicted on populations by governments the world over, people will go to extraordinary lengths to grow weed and avoid detection. Here, we list our ten favourite examples of weird and wonderful grow room locations:
Following a tip-off from the electric company that the local grid was experiencing a mysterious drain on energy, police raided a typical A-frame style family house and discovered a passageway leading down to a 75-metre natural cave, which had been expertly modified to house up to 1,000 cannabis plants measuring up to 1.8 metres in height!
8. Next door to a police station
This may just top the list of unusual underground sites for grow rooms. In Tennessee, just outside Nashville, a truly epic grow set-up was discovered by police in 2005, and it is thought that the operation ran for several years before it was finally detected.
It is not clear what tipped police off to the presence of the hidden grow room, but they obviously managed to complete at least one harvest before being caught!