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Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

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Marijuana Grow Houses Have Hidden Dangers

May 08, 2014  | 

Indoor pot farms in Northern California can be hard to spot until they catch fire and release fumes from chemicals and mold. The operations are often run by gangs and can involve violence, including a recent shooting death in San Jose. 

Illegal residential marijuana farms are hardly a new phenomenon in the Northern California Bay Area, but the numbers appear to be increasing at a time when law enforcement resources are dwindling and police are focused on more pressing priorities -- tracking violent crime, gang activity, and keeping a patrol presence on the streets, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

"I'm comfortable saying that there are over 100 of these houses, and the majority are in the city of San Jose," said Sgt. John Spagnola, who heads the two-man Marijuana Eradication Team for the Santa Clara County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office, the only South Bay agency with deputies devoted solely to eradicating marijuana. "We have tips right now that we just haven't had time to deal with yet. We could constantly be busting them."

What is clear is that when these houses go up in smoke, as they often do, the result is a nightmare for firefighters responding to blazes caused by marijuana growers' shoddy handiwork in bypassing electrical meters to stay off the radar of the electric company. Often, the houses also have chemicals and mold inside.

Indoor pot operations often are in otherwise safe, quiet residential neighborhoods. From the outside, they look like regular houses, hiding in plain sight until they catch fire, which happened twice within four days in San Jose in March.

In the South Bay, grow houses are often run by gangs affiliated with Vietnamese coffee houses, Spagnola said.

Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Donna Redden @ 5/9/2014 10:40 AM

I'm worried about the ones in The Redwoods !! It's too beautiful to destroy. ☆☆

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