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Why did Glendale Police Bust a Pot-Growing Operation—a Block from the Northeast Station?

Thursday’s raid on a Glassell Park warehouse growing 1,000 plants raises some curious questions.

The Glendale Police busted a major marijuana-growing operation in Glassell Park Thursday that has left many people puzzling over this question: How could such an elaborate set-up in a former furniture warehouse, involving some 1,000 pot plants worth $1.5 million, have survived just a block away from the Northeast Community Station—in territory that’s under the LAPD’s jurisdiction?

Patch contacted both the Glendale Police Department and the Northeast Station to find out about the bust—first reported by the Glendale News Press—and to ask why, as some the neighbors in the area have alleged, the LAPD did nothing when informed about the pot-growing operation, which attracted suspicion because of the smell of marijuana in the vicinity. ("We thought it was skunks," the owner of Haute House, a nearby furniture business, told Patch.)

Sgt. Sanford Rosenberg, the watch commander at the Northeast Station on Saturday, said that while he was not aware of the bust on the edge of the Glendale-L.A. border, it was certainly possible that some member of the public gave a “generalized statement” to the LAPD about a pot-growing venture in the neighborhood. “But did they call Narcotics, Downtown, Communications, did they talk to the Northeast Division?”

If somebody gives the Northeast Station a tip on narcotics—which, said Sanford, “we get all the time”—the information is passed straight to the Narcotics unit. “These guys are really good at following up.” But “if you’re going to call a patrol car, they’re not going to call the Narcotics unit—and they’re going to drive by the building.”

The officer in charge of the Northeast Division Narcotics unit is Lt. David Kowalski. Some readers will remember that he headed the May 2 raid that shut down American Eagle Collective, Eagle Rock’s most popular marijuana dispensary, under orders from the District Attorney's office, for allegedly illegal narcotics-related activities. Kowalski was unavailable for a comment over the weekend—and Patch is hoping to speak to him Monday.

Meanwhile, according to a Glendale Police dispatcher who was on duty on the morning the June 7 bust occurred, the raid was a “group effort” involving “lots of intelligence tips” collected over months.

And the story doesn’t end with the warehouse on the 3400 block of San Fernando Road and Tyburn Street—with its reportedly air-conditioned interiors that still had enough moisture to dampen parchment paper covering windows. "There are multiple locations—in L.A. maybe—different collectives and storefronts," Cox said.

“It’s possible the LAPD got the info and gave it to us,” said the dispatcher, Jason Cox. “If they don’t have the resources and manpower, we’ll take it on—that happens quite a lot.”

Whether the LAPD cooperated or partnered in any way with the Glendale Police in a deliberate operation that evidently had months of preparation behind it, is a significant question that Patch intends to pursue.

Stay tuned for details.

STARCHY June 12, 2012 at 04:20 PM
"is for the pot stores to operate just like other businesses like bars, liquor stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and restaurants" ----- except those examples are laden with gubment regulation and taxes. hows about this --- legalize it. period. its a plant. leave it at that
Michael Larsen June 12, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Do you mean legalize the sale with absolutely no regulation? Is that what you're advocating?
STARCHY June 12, 2012 at 06:29 PM
sure - why not? its a plant! do you want the gubment to control how many potted palms you can buy? as for tax - sales tax yes. "sin tax" no
Local June 12, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Legalize Marijuana? All for it. Regulate it? Absolutely. Just as I don't like the patrons at the local liquor store to drink on my street, I don't like the clientele of the local dispensary parking on my block to light up. Whatever your take, its simply not cool to hang out in front of anyone's house to get loaded \ medicated or whatever. Without regulation, we simply get the same attitude from the same people sitting on my block doing whatever they please .. which is "F* You, what are you going to do about it?" Medical MJ doesn't equate to crime? Perhaps, but the behavior patron's behavior is rude at the least, and completely reduces the quality of life for everyone that lives there. Why not smoke at home?
Ajay Singh (Editor) June 12, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Starchy—I like your syntax!
joyce hong June 12, 2012 at 07:13 PM
@ Michael Larsen, Here you go again talking out of both sides of your mouth. By continuing to advocate onerous regulations and being very NIMBY in your attitude you are prolonging the status quo. I am not sure if this is what you want but it is certainly the outcome which you are achieving. People will start to realize this and hold you accountable.
Michael Larsen June 12, 2012 at 07:29 PM
We've seen 5 new dispensaries open in Eagle Rock in the last 2 weeks. This trend might be what you are (professionally) advocating for Ms. Hong, but it is what I am fighting against. Shutting them all down until they can be properly regulated is our aim, and we are making progress.
ERHS Moms June 12, 2012 at 10:04 PM
The "medical marijuana" patients are also lying in many instances. They are scamming doctors, etc. That is the crux of the problem for those of us not in favor of pot shops draggin down our neighborhood. There cannot possibly be that many legitimately ill people in Eagle Rock alone. It's statistically impossible! Their need to "share" their "medication" with others is also annoying. If they want marijuana to be legal they should start with reputable behavior. Expressly NOT driving stoned to or from their dispensary. That is NO One's legal right and never has been. If you are ill and "need" to smoke pot then smoke it at home where "sick" people usually take their medications or better yet have your doctor prescribe Marinol which can be picked up at the pharmacy which would be more convenient for all involved, both the patient and the neighborhood residents. It is most likely a lot cheaper too. There are so many problems in our society with unsafe behavior from alcohol, etc. We don't need to add another unregulated potentially detrimental substance into the mix.
Nelson R Grande II June 12, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Based on PERSONAL experience, I can attest that 'ERHS Moms' does not speak for all actual ERHS Moms out there. Now that that's established, let's get to the meat and potatoes: Lumping Marijuana with Alcohol is a sure sign that the Marijuana community has failed to dispel most myths about it. It is in no way like alcohol. One does not become disoriented in a way that is created by alcohol. It is far less harmful than nicotine, far less addicting than caffeine, and far less aggressive than alcohol. There has never been a case of anyone dying directly from marijuana ingestion. As a matter of fact, it is a therapeutic herb. It is used for stress. One does not become aggressive when ingesting marijuana. (cont'd on next comment due to 1500 character limit not calculating correctly)
Nelson R Grande II June 12, 2012 at 11:56 PM
(cont'd from above) Sadly, I'm shooting in the dark here. I'd like to know how you feel Marijuana is detrimental to the neighborhood and I will happily provide a statement for it. But I can assure you that it is not as harmful as you may believe. Most 'facts' about Marijuana have been soundly disproven by RECENT scientific study. The stigma we all came to know was based on lies. If you don't like to ingest Marijuana, you're within your natural right to and I'll support that right. I'd love to have a dialogue about your concerns. Simply knowing that someone ingests Marijuana and you not liking is not enough to warrant all out prohibition. Prohibition does NOT work and only leaves the criminals to profit. Folks are NOT going to stop ingesting Marijuana. They haven't for thousands of years. They're not starting now. Best to come to rational agreements based on factual evidence.
ERHS Moms June 13, 2012 at 05:08 AM
It's not marijuana that is detrimental to the neighborhood per se, it's the people using it that believe that it's OKAY to drive stoned that is bothersome to those of us who are not into it. Regardless of whether you believe that its effects are not as severe as alcohol it still does not negate the impairment that goes along with being stoned. If your goal is to get the vast majority of those opposed to accept it then the behaviors of the users need to be acceptable. If you're stoned in your own home then nobody cares, but when you get in a car then all people should care. If it didn't impair your reactions and calm your body then it wouldn't be medication for pain or anxiety. When the community sees a parade of persons going into a pot shop all day long, most of them stoned, a good impression is not made. What's wrong with Marinol? It doesn't smell heinous. It's cheaper and carried at the pharmacy which is regulated. Medical marijuana is one thing & the "right" to be stoned is another. Being legitimately ill is one thing and lying to or paying off a crooked doctor is another. To those of us who do not care for it the ads about the quality and the grade along with the food items make it seem like a huge scam all in the name of medicine. Nobody wants a bunch of stoners driving cars, smelling up the air, or just being around their kids. Nothing against the legitimately ill at all that's an entirely different story.
AFG June 13, 2012 at 05:34 AM
@Nelson: More than one person has said that they don't like marijuana purchasers to light up on their street. Others say they don't want to see them driving cars. Maybe more considerate behavior from the patrons would help. I for one have a problem with the persons I know who smoke "medical" marijuana when they share their medication with their friends and act like they can smoke it anywhere. That makes them appear not really sick, but just wanting to party. Face it if you smoke marijuana and you aren't smoking it at home then most likely you are driving and that's not okay. Because marijuana is a plant there are those of us who are allergic to the smell and the fumes. That makes us sick, whereas other patients taking their RX medications do not. I have more than one acquaintance addicted to the stuff, receiving DUI's from the stuff, always short of cash because of the stuff, using it in conjunction with alcohol etc. and that isn't something I'd want for my kids. Look at the deaths related to alcohol and drunk driving. Does this society really need another reason to crash and possibly harm others?
Nelson R Grande II June 13, 2012 at 06:16 AM
The foot traffic you see at the dispensary is no more than what you would see at a 7-11. The only difference is that you are aware of their intent. If you were to see a nuisance, I would suggest you treat it as if it were happening at the aforementioned 7-11. Labeling Marijuana users as 'Stoners' creates a false image and does a disservice to an honest dialogue. I personally know many tie-wearing advocates. As far as marijuana being around kids, I have know a multitude of folks who have no issue with their children being around users of marijuana (not to be confused with the marijuana, itself). Living in Eagle Rock, I can almost guarantee you that you've crossed paths with someone using Marijuana. It truly is hardly noticeable. Again, the 'stoner' image you may know is false. We are not all Cheech and Chong. We are not all the couch potatoes that is perpetuated by the media and the 'War on Drugs' campaign. We are professional, everyday working people. No need to fear for 'the kids'. As far as the crooked doctors, I would not condone this behavior no matter on which side of the debate s/he may be. I'm here to promote personal liberties, not criminal behavior. However, if one feels like s/he may benefit from Marijuana and has a doctor that refuses to prescribe it, what is one to do if s/he wants to remain on the side of the law? While the Reefer Madness fear has not been dispelled scientifically, it is still a very dangerous career move for any reputable doctor.
ERHS Moms June 13, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Nobody said that all marijuana users are stoners, but stoners do definitely exist & they aren't in short supply. It doesn't matter what attire they wear or what job they have, it is their behavior that is in question.The stoners are the ones driving stoned, showing up at the dispensary stoned, smoking in front of other people's houses, etc. That is where the negative perception of them, that some of us have, comes from. Not from propaganda or altered statistics, but from their witnessed behavior. Perhaps that behavior should be addressed by you and then maybe progress will be made?
Nelson R Grande II June 13, 2012 at 06:39 AM
Why do you have a problem with those that 'share their medication with their friends and act like they can smoke it anywhere'? It's not affecting your life personally. If I share a pie with my family, would it seem like a problem? I'm not sure how you come to this conclusion. Further, if you have an issue with someone, I would suggest to take it up with that person, rather than generalizing and bringing everyone along who's not involved in your life. The assumption that smoking away from your home equates to driving is incorrect. I personally enjoy taking the bus and walking. Still, it's not something that takes away your rationalization. As far as you being allergic to the smell, this isn't possible. You may be allergic to the smoke. That's very understandable. However, it's the smoke and not the Marijuana. I would treat it as I do nicotine cigarettes. I avoid it. It is an uncontested fact that Marijuana is LESS addictive than the caffeine in coffee and soda. If you have more than one acquaintance always short on cash, it would most be due to the habit, not an addiction. It's the same as one using all of their money on video games. I can tell you, I've have many more than one acquaintance in that situation. I would never pretend to know what's best for your kids. But I can say that I have absolutely no issue with my sons being around folks that use MJ. I'd rather them, than those drinking alcohol bar-none. Not all Marijuana smokers are 'stoners'.
Nelson R Grande II June 13, 2012 at 06:50 AM
AFG, the deaths related to drunk driving have absolutely nothing to do with Marijuana. If you know someone with an alcohol problem, I would categorize that in a completely different way. Having intimate knowledge, both, alcohol and Marijuana, I can say, with absolute, certainty, Marijuana has none of the effects of alcohol. Alcohol disorients you, it makes you aggressive, it diminishes your rational thought, and it kills you. NONE of these are present with Marijuana. I know this because, again, I have experienced both many times over. I don't know if you've ever ingested Marijuana. But I can say that most, if not all, will tell you that there is no comparison. It's very difficult to argue that point if one has never ingested both. Lastly, Marijuana displays the most benign effects of any other drug out there. So little, that I feel it criminal to lump the others together; including alcohol or tobacco (which are highly addictive). You cannot overdose on it and has less harmful effects than does aspirin (from which you can overdose).
Nelson R Grande II June 13, 2012 at 06:57 AM
Okay. I can definitely agree with that. But those are troublemakers first and 'stoners' after. They are who they are and the Marijuana has nothing to do with that. Those baddies are a small percentage of recreational Marijuana users. It's the equivalent of wanting to outlaw video games because a few unstable kids shot up a school. Marijuana is a recreation some trouble makers enjoy. It is not the reason they are trouble makers. Most recreational users I personally know, are respectful, productive, and positive people who don't wish harm upon others. Let's not ignore the vast amounts of A's in order to concentrate on the few D's. -ERHS Father
AFG June 13, 2012 at 07:08 AM
No sharing a pie with your family at your house would not be a problem, but that same behavior in front of a person's house would be a problem. Also pies don't smell like pot. Can you see that? If the smell makes a person feel sick then they feel sick & just as I don't want anyone smoking cigarettes near me, likewise marijuana is also bothersome. You could also argue that smoking anything in front of anyone else effects them, because they are breathing it (just like cigarettes) where say drinking a beer does not effect those near you. You're right, smoking away from home does not absolutely mean you are driving, but that doesn't mean everyone smoking is taking the bus either. A lot of stoned drivers have been seen arriving and leaving that dispensary. Even if it's less addictive than caffeine it is still addictive. As one person said they don't want the liquor store buyers drinking in front of their house they likewise don't want the dispensary shoppers lighting up in front of their house either. I don't want that either and I don't know them to confront them. I am allergic to the smoke and the smell makes me ill just like an allergy to flowers, etc. That time we were near the dispensary one of my kids had an asthma attack. I definitely know more than one person addicted to marijuana. Why would it be different than being addicted to alcohol? Again not all smokers are stoners but surely you can believe that stoners do exist & they give a bad impression to those who see them.
AFG June 13, 2012 at 07:15 AM
PS: When I've seen people smoking pot they sure don't look like they are unaffected. They look bleary eyed and stoned. The deaths related to driving under the influence apply to all substances that put you in that category, not just alcohol. I lumped them together because most of the med marijuana smokers I have known use it to party & then they are drinking too. alcohol affects different people differently. Maybe marijuana does that too?
Nelson R Grande II June 13, 2012 at 07:22 AM
Addiction is a medical issue and should be treated as such. I one is addicted to the internet, abolishing its use is not the answer. Working with the ill person is. I agree with the sentiment of you not wanting the smoke in front of your house. I must end this conversation now. But I will return tomorrow morning to follow up. Take care, AFG. It's very nice to have civilized discussion.
STARCHY June 13, 2012 at 03:35 PM
What I don't understand is why everyone is so worked up about "stoners" but they are perfectly accepting of the stumbling drunks from the ALAMA LODGE? I'd much rather have John Q. Public walking down the street with some weed in his pocket then Stinky McDrinky laying on the sidewalk in his own piss begging for change. If you/ me/ we want to make a positive change in Eagle Rock lets run the homeless off of Colorado and Eagle Rock Blvds--- enough is enough.
STARCHY June 13, 2012 at 03:37 PM
and while we're at it... can we get rid of the flyers, menus and phone books that literally litter the streets? why are these people allowed to litter in such obvious fashion?? and BILLBOARDS. for god sakes can we get rid of them???
STARCHY June 13, 2012 at 03:44 PM
"The deaths related to driving under the influence apply to all substances that put you in that category, not just alcohol."--- thats just not true. Alcohol impairment is far more dangerous than weed. Besides, most people that I know who drive high are very paranoid and extremely careful, almost to a fault! Anecdotal evidence for sure but compared to the raging idiots I've seen drive drunk I personally would feel much safer riding with a stoned driver than a drunk one. But regardless there is NOTHING worse than texting while driving- not even drunk driving.
AFG June 13, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Starchy, they may be paranoid drivers, but they are still impaired drivers and should not be driving at all. There are so many that believe that because their marijuana is "medicine" that they are exempt from the rules about driving stoned.
AFG June 13, 2012 at 09:30 PM
http://www.narcoticnews.com/Marijuana-Information,-Is-Marijuana-a-Narcotic-.php You should really read this study. their research sure doesn't make marijuana sound like a healthy choice as has been stated by some. It goes on to delineate the heart risks, the brain changes that come with frequent and infrequent use, and the comparative carcinogens to tobacco. It sure isn't something that seems like a healthy choice unless absolutely necessary. It seems far better to deal with your stress with diet and exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Local June 14, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Nelson, I'm not here to argue the medical benefits or people's rights etc. I am inclined to agree. The problem is this, and you and any other advocate should address this: There are nefarious characters hanging on my block, smoking medical marijuana (they leave their prescription bottles along with garbage and condoms in the gutter) and when asked, politely, "why don't you smoke that at home?" The response has been outright hostile, threatening me with violence "I know where you live motherf*(#Y you better watch out!" That makes people like me, that support people like you, not WANT to have any dispensaries in my neighborhood. Why? Because jerks like that get their MJ from the said dispensaries. If proponents don't address THAT issue, then you will never have my vote. Until its regulated and doctors stop prescribing to absolutely everyone .. then you simply don't have my support
Local June 14, 2012 at 11:12 PM
and as to the stumblers coming out of a bar or drunks drinking on the street or the traffic coming out of a 711 ... IF a bar or liquor store near my house was causing people to stumble in my yard, leaving bottles, garbage and condoms ... I would do anything in my power to close that establishment which has nothing to do with any leanings to prohibition. I keep my bottle of scotch nearby. I just don't drink it in front of anyone's house.
STARCHY June 15, 2012 at 05:03 PM
"they are still impaired drivers and should not be driving at all"-- nonsense everything is relative. can you drive safely after drinking one beer or one glass of wine? people should be responsible for their actions and the consequences of their actions (and their decisions). The gubment is not the answer to everything
STARCHY June 15, 2012 at 05:11 PM
that article (it's not a "study") is complete nonsense. they do not quote a single source or even mention ANY study by name. Its like some housewife sat down and wrote a bunch of bologna to scare her kids... but even so- the "article" itself says: "marijuana is not a narcotic" !!
STARCHY June 15, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Local - I agree. Jose Huizar has failed miserably in addressing the issue of littering and loitering (not to mention his support of huge giveaways of scarce taxpayer money to rich developers). How he get re-elected STILL confounds me. But the people to prosecute in these instances are the people causing these problems - the kids loitering and littering, the Glendale thugs parked in their cars, the phone book garbage droppers and the stumbling bums from the ALMA LODGE.

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