A tip from a neighbor led members of the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force to a Felida house on Sunday morning, where they arrested a 25-year-old man and seized 292 marijuana plants.
It was the thought to be the sixth grow house bust since Operation Gang Green raided 56 houses on Oct. 13, said Sgt. Pat Moore, a Vancouver police officer who is a supervisor with the drug task force.
“The house was being rented,” Moore said. “The gentleman had been living here about five months.”
Moore said Michael Y. Chen allowed officers into the house at 12103 N.W. 41st. Ave in Messner Estates, a development of 30 houses in the upscale neighborhood. Chen was arrested for manufacturing marijuana, a felony.
One room contained the 292 plants and four others were outfitted with growing equipment, Moore said. “This house was just being set up,” he said.
The plants were 6 to 12 inches high, perhaps six weeks from being mature, Moore said. At maturity, each plant can bring $800 to $1,000 on the street, he added.
Moore said there was several thousand dollars in equipment, including light shields, carbon filters with fans, ballasts and timers.
The sergeant said the marijuana and equipment were taken in the task force “raid van.” He said grow house busts in Clark County continue and, “It’s getting crazy.”
Terry Hiller, who lives next door and developed the neighborhood, said his wife, Maureen, suspected a grow operation and alerted police.
“The guy rented it,” Terry Hiller said. “Next thing I knew, they had the garage windows blocked out.”
He said he only saw Chen about once a month. “He was a really nice kid,” Hiller said.
On Sunday morning, Hiller saw Chen at the house, and called Sgt. Moore. Hiller said he went to do errands and his wife called him a bit later and said, “ ‘There were cops all over the neighborhood.’ ”
Clark County property records indicate the house is owned by Falcons Run LLC, which has a Washougal address.
Talking about the operation, Moore said wires revealed that power was being stolen from Clark Public Utilities before the electricity reached the house power box.
The plants in the upstairs room were each in pots about six inches deep and six inches wide and thick.
“We’re trying to take a zero-tolerance policy on these grows,” Moore said. He said many homeowners end up being victims because of damage to the rented houses.
He said the drug task force is not after only marijuana grows. He said members are fighting against all illegal narcotics, including methamphetamine and heroin.
Chen was in the Clark County Jail on Sunday night with no bail allowed.
On Oct. 13, 49 people were arrested when an estimated 300 law officers swept across Clark County and netted about 6,800 marijuana plants. It was thought to be the largest drug bust in Clark County history.