Pierce County Sheriff's Deputy follows his nose to illegal marijuana


PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -A few weeks ago, a Pierce County Sheriff's Office Mountain Detachment Deputy was driving on State Route 702. As he passed Christensen Muck Road he suddenly smelled a very strong odor of marijuana; the deputy recalled a conversation he had with a man two weeks earlier during which the citizen told him that he had also smelled a strong odor marijuana coming from a property in the 3800 block of Christensen Muck Road.

As the deputy drove by the large, fully fenced property, he spotted a manufactured home and a large fully enclosed shop. Despite a breeze, the smell of marijuana was still strong. The deputy spoke with another citizen who told the deputy that he believed there was a marijuana grow operation inside the shop, and that he had seen many vehicles visit the location after dark at what he believed was "harvest time".

The deputy contacted the WA Liquor & Cannabis Control Board to inquire whether there was a legal grow, processing, or distribution operation at the property; there was nothing legally registered with the state. 

The deputy obtained a search warrant for the power bills and learned that the property was the largest consumer of electricity from OHOP Mutual Light Company, using nearly 2.5 times as much as the second highest consumer. The average residence uses approximately 10,000 KW of power per year; the property on Christensen Muck Road was using over 300,000 KW per year.

Using this information, the deputy was able to obtain a search warrant for the shop and home, which was served Wednesday morning. Inside the shop the search team located and dismantled a massive illegal grow operation that included over 2,800 marijuana plants, numerous grow lights, fans, large charcoal filters, timers, and elaborate watering and humidifying systems. Total street value of the illegal grow operation was estimated at over 1.4 million dollars per quarterly harvest.

Deputies arrested a 46-year-old man and a 46-year-old woman that were contacted on the property; the married couple were booked into the Pierce County Jail for Unlawful Manufacture of a Controlled Substance.

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