By Andrea Wagner, Red Bluff Daily News
Drug task force agents arrested eight people and recovered 736 marijuana plants in a commercial pot grow operation disguised as a medical marijuana grow on Paskenta Road Wednesday.
The suspects, from Texas, Cottonwood and Red Bluff, were arrested on a property with several 50-foot long greenhouses and a fenced back yard full of marijuana plants, said Special Agent Supervisor Eric Maher.
Several medical marijuana recommendations were posted throughout the growing area implying that it was a medicinal crop, but investigators determined that it was a commercial growing operation, Maher said.
Agents found two suspects sleeping in the growing area armed with a pistol and a shotgun, Maher said. Two bullet-proof vests and six firearms were seized.
A stolen car that had been stripped for parts was found on the property in the 11400 block of Paskenta Road, he said.
Agents executed a search warrant on the property with a collaboration between Tehama Interagency Drug Enforcement task force and the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement's North State Marijuana Investigation Team, Glenn Interagency Narcotics Task Force, District Attorney investigators, sheriff's detectives, the California Highway Patrol, Homeland Security and the county probation department.
There was a shop, greenhouses and a double wide mobile home on the property as well as six unlicensed pit bulls, Maher said.
Animal regulation officers from the sheriff's department took one of the dogs to the county shelter, sheriff's logs said.
The other pets were returned to residents on the property who were not arrested, Maher said.
Of those arrested, four men and one woman were charged with cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale. Those were Eduardo Ramos Galvez, 30, and Noune Phasavath, 40, both of Red Bluff, and Somethonit Phoumychack, 23, Noukay Sengxay, 46, and Thon Phoumychack, 55, all of Cottonwood. Bail was set at $55,000 each.
Lamyai Sengxay, 46, of Cottonwood was arrested on charges of cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale as well as charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. She is being held in lieu of $95,000 bail.
Michael Ketsana Phimmasone, 38, of Irving, Texas, and John Chanthavong, 36, of Fort Worth, Texas, were arrested on charges of cultivation of marijuana.
Bail was set at $25,000 each.
An additional charge of being armed during the commission of a felony will be added, Maher said. All suspects are being held at the Tehama County Jail.
The 736 marijuana plants recovered could have produced an average of 1 to 5 pounds of marijuana per plant, Maher said. The street value would have ranged from $1.5 million to $7.7 million, he said.
TIDE is part of 48 regional narcotic task forces statewide operated by the California Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.
The task force's mission is to significantly diminish the availability and use of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs in Tehama County through apprehension and prosecution, Maher said.