Tuesday Sep 16 2008
Multi-agency drug bust nets one arrest in Lincoln
By: Liz Kellar, Lincoln News Messenger
Catta Verdera man believed to be member of pot-growing operation
Federal drug enforcement agents descended on a number of upscale homes in the region Tuesday, including one Catta Verdera home, breaking up a sophisticated indoor marijuana growing operation. One of the homes targeted early Tuesday morning is on Monte Verde Drive, Lincoln. Gordon Taylor, special agent in charge of the Sacramento office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said the owner, realtor Tony Quy Le, 50, was arrested at the house and a “significant amount” of cash was seized. “He is definitely considered a member” of the pot-growing organization, Taylor said. “We believe he was using his occupation as a realtor to sell or lease at least some of the homes being used for growing pot.” Although a Toyota truck was parked in the driveway, the house was deserted Tuesday afternoon. Every window on the front of the two-story stucco Spanish-styled home was masked in crumpled white accordion shades, in marked contrast to the custom shutters adorning other houses on the street. Quy Le’s house is in Catta Verdera, an upscale gated community; the house next door is on the market for $594,900. Taylor said sophisticated marijuana factories locating in luxury homes is a growing national trend. “We first started to see this approximately two years ago in Elk Grove,” Taylor said. “Since then, it has spread across the country. These are very sophisticated organizations, creating marijuana factories in nice neighborhoods. It doesn’t appear any neighborhood is safe.” A multi-agency operation involving the DEA, Placer County and El Dorado County Sheriffs and local police departments served eight search warrants in all. Agents discovered two active growing operations inside upscale homes – one in El Dorado Hills and one in Placerville. Taylor said 799 plants were recovered in El Dorado Hills and 507 in Placerville. Another home, in Cameron Park, had been the site of a growing operation but currently was being used to stash growing equipment, Taylor said. Authorities said they believe those operations are linked to two indoor growing operations local authorities uncovered in Foresthill and Auburn last August and September. Minh Vinh Le, 31, was arrested at the Placerville home and Cuong The Le, 39, at the El Dorado Hills home. Also arrested Tuesday were Hung The Le, 45, of Elk Grove; and Tien The Le, 39, of Sacramento. Wan Fang Fu, 27, was detained but not charged. The five suspects appeared in federal court Wednesday and were formally charged.