Presumed San Francisco robbery leads cops to marijuana grow house 

click to enlarge The suspected chief of a marijuana-growing operation at a South of Market warehouse reportedly gave Starbucks gift cards to neighbors to perk up their mornings — and hopefully keep their mouths shut. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • The suspected chief of a marijuana-growing operation at a South of Market warehouse reportedly gave Starbucks gift cards to neighbors to perk up their mornings — and hopefully keep their mouths shut.

In the drug trade, you need real bucks — not Starbucks.

An alleged illegal marijuana grower reportedly showered his South of Market neighbors with coffee shop gift cards in an apparent attempt at keeping them quiet. But police said the man and three other suspects were arrested Feb. 12 after a burglary call led officers to a secret operation in a warehouse in the 100 block of Stillman Street.

Early that morning, police said, officers were called out to bust burglars on Stillman Street, a narrow strip of businesses that runs parallel to Interstate 80 between Second and Fourth streets. Once at the scene, the officers stopped a vehicle with four occupants. Their identities were not available Monday.

The car reeked of pot, police said, leading to a search. The suspects “were hiding marijuana and weapons” in the vehicle, Southern Police Station Capt. Michael Redmond said.

And they apparently weren’t burglars; one of the suspects had a key that fit the lock to the warehouse, Redmond said.

The officers soon learned that a warehouse on that block housed a “full-scale” pot growing operation with more than 500 plants and large bags of processed marijuana, along with packaging, distribution and sales paraphernalia, Redmond said.

Another gun and ammunition also were found in the warehouse, Redmond said.

Neighbors had a hunch that pot was being grown in the unit. The apparent head of the operation reportedly offered them Starbucks cards, presumably to keep anyone from mentioning the marijuana stench to police, one neighbor said Monday.

“He drove an Audi and wore a cheap suit,” the neighbor said.

Those who spoke with The San Francisco Examiner wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

The four suspects were booked into County Jail on numerous felony charges.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

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