Two men arrested in Palmdale at what turned out to be a marijuana grow house powered by stolen electricity, and where some 630 pot plants with a street value of around $1 million were seized, were arraigned Wednesday at the Antelope Valley Superior courthouse and pleaded no contest to one count each of felony possession of marijuana for sale.
They are supposed to return to court July 10 for sentencing. According to the District Attorney’s office the duo faced a maximum of three years each in prison but worked out a plea deal of 180 formal probation days and a requirement to pay restitution to Edison for the electricity stolen. In exchange, one count each of cultivation and theft of services were dismissed.
Edgar Damian, 24, and Luis Ascencion, 30, (also known as Armando Amezdua Soterio) were arrested in the 200 block of East Avenue P-2 about 3:40 p.m. Monday, said Sgt. Rich Pena of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s headquarters bureau.
They were arrested with the plants after a license check of a car parked outside the house revealed Damian was named in a felony warrant for narcotics possession, Pena said.
The deputies called for backup and, after colleagues arrived, entered the home, whose front door was open, Pena said, adding that they immediately smelled a strong odor indicative of a grow house operation.
Every room on the property, including the garage, had been converted into a hydroponics grow operation, with around 630 marijuana plants being raised, Pena said.
Damian and Ascencion were found in a back room tending to some of the plants, he said, adding they had not heard the deputies enter the house because of the noisy ventilation equipment.
The sheriff’s department estimates the confiscated plants to have a street value of around $1 million, according to Pena.
Pena said the suspects admitted they began their grow operation about three months ago, when they arrived here from Mexico, but said they had not yet sold any pot.
They were both booked on charges of cultivation of marijuana and utility theft for allegedly stealing electricity by redirecting incoming power to the house, according to the sheriff’s department.
Damian was also arrested on June 1 by Palmdale deputies on an unspecified felony charge and got of jail after posting $10,000 bail on June 4, according to jail records.
City News Service also contributed to this story.