32 Arrested and 2,000 Plants Seized in Marijuana Raid
DEC 8 -- LIVERMORE – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Oakland Resident Office and the Livermore Police Department announced today the arrest of 32 individuals in connection with a large marijuana cultivation and distribution organization. As a result of the investigation law enforcement seized over 2,000 marijuana plants, 6 vehicles, 2 motorcycles, a scissor lift, 4 bank accounts totaling over $323,000, and approximately $665,000 in U.S. Currency.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña stated, "I'm looking forward to the day when instead of buying fancy cars, boats and homes with their drug profits, criminals take advantage of some frequently repeated, free advice - if you grow marijuana, you will go to jail. DEA will continue to work with our local partners to make this point as clear as possible."
Livermore Police Department began their investigation into the organization in October 2005. On October 29, 2005, the Livermore Police Department served a search warrant at a warehouse located on the 4700 block of Bennett Avenue in Livermore . Inside the warehouse law enforcement located a large sophisticated hydroponic indoor marijuana grow, seized over one thousand marijuana plants in various stages of growth and arrested 31 individuals. Officers identified a majority of those arrested as paid employees brought to the location to help with the marijuana cultivation and harvesting.
Shortly thereafter, the Livermore Police Department contacted the DEA Oakland Resident Office for assistance in the investigation and to seek federal prosecution. Law enforcement conducted searches of various locations throughout the east bay area in follow up to their investigation. Additional warrants were served at the following locations: a residence in San Leandro, from which a large amount of U.S. Currency, two vehicles and two motorcycles were seized; four warehouses in Hayward from which law enforcement seized approximately one thousand marijuana plants and located indoor marijuana grows at 3 warehouses while at the 4 th warehouse officers located equipment for a hydroponic marijuana grow, but no plants; and finally a residence in San Ramon was searched; however, no contraband was seized. Officers have learned through investigative efforts that some of the marijuana produced at these locations allegedly was grown for various cannabis clubs located in the bay area.
As a result of this on-going investigation law enforcement has seized a Corvette, GMC Denali, Ford F-350 truck, Ford F-250 truck, Pontiac GTO, a Fleetwood Motorhome, a KTM motorcycle, a Suzuki motorcycle, a scissor lift and various bank accounts and cash totaling almost $1 million.
In November 2005, the following individuals were arrested on a variety of state charges including marijuana cultivation, possession for sale of marijuana, parole violations and outstanding arrest warrants unrelated to this investigation:
Lisa Payne, 29, San Ramon
In late November 2005, in conjunction with the investigation the following individuals were charged in Federal Court in the Northern District of California with the listed violations:
21 U.S.C. Section 846 – Conspiracy: Michael Payne, 40, of San Ramon, James Chiaverini, 36, of San Leandro and Jayson Westfall, 32, of Discovery Bay.
21 U.S.C. Section 841(a)(1) – Manufacturing of Marijuana: Michael Payne and James Chiaverini.
21 U.S.C. Section 856(a)(1) – Maintaining a Premises for the Manufacturing of Marijuana: Michael Payne and Jayson Westfall.
31 U.S.C. Section 5313(a) – Structuring of Currency Transactions Involving Financial Institutions – Jayson Westfall
This case is being prosecuted by the Alameda County District Attorneys Office and the United States Attorneys Office in the Northern District of California. Each count of conspiracy, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section 846, carries a minimum penalty of 5 years in prison. Each count of manufacturing of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section 841(a)(1), carries a minimum penalty of 5 years in prison. Each count of maintaining a premises for the manufacturing of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section 856(a)(1), carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Each count of structuring currency transactions involving financial institutions, in violation of 31 U.S.C. Section 5313(a), carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.All press inquiries can be directed to DEA PIO Casey McEnry at (415) 436-7994 or Livermore Police Lieutenant Ken Gardner at 925-371-4725.