Thursday morning, San Leandro police raided several East Bay locations, confiscating millions of dollars in drugs and cash in a blockbuster marijuana bust, authorities reported.
About 1,000 marijuana plants, more than $150,000 in cash, firearms, and advanced indoor growing equipment were seized by authorities, San Leandro police Lt. Tom Overton said.
It’s one of the biggest busts I’ve seen in 23 years,” Overton commented. The Drug Enforcement Agency aided police in the bust, which was the conclusion to a two-month investigation.
Officers managed to make six arrests, but the suspected leader of the indoor growing operation escaped. Near his lavish Berkeley Hills home, Brian Molitaris, a 30, jumped from a steep 25-foot embankment into rocky terrain and fled the scene, Overton said. Molitaris remains at large.
Molitaris was suspected to be involved in the indoor marijuana growth operation at two homes in the 7100 block of Buckingham, Oakland, one of which he owned. Police served simultaneous warrants to these homes, as well as Molitaris Berkeley hills home in the 6700 block of Elverton Drive and at a warehouse in the 2800 block of Chapman.
At the Chapman warehouse, police confiscated 400 plants.
In one of the Buckingham homes, authorities seized about an ounce of marijuana and $1,200 in cash. The house also appeared to be in the process of being prepared for a major growing operation, Overton explained.
An advanced upstairs harvesting room was found inside the other Buckingham home, as well as $100,000 in cash, 200 plants, at least 25 pounds of unfinished product and two handguns.
In the Elverton home, 400 plants, around 6 pounds of finished product, and $50,000 in cash was found by authorities.
On suspicion of cultivating marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale, and increased possession of firearms charges in connection with the drug possession charges, police arrested six suspects- Patrick Fisher, 30, Noah Daar, 32, and Angela Deluca, 31, all from Oakland; Rosario Archimedes, 34, of El Cerrito; Leonardo Martinez, 22, of Berkeley.
Overton said he didn’t know how long the operation had been running, but it was clear that it was sophisticated and profitable. Noting that the cultivators used an elaborate combination of timers and electronic equipment that required minimal manpower, DEA agents described the operation as â “very sophisticated.” Overton explained that it looked like they had “top-of-the-line equipment.”
Overton said that Molitaris owned two homes that both valued over $1 million; the bare income Molitaris claimed he earned from a computer-related field was â€œnothing that would allow him to have that kind of lifestyle.
Overton also said that Molitaris had surveillance equipment spread across his home, and therefore likely saw police before they broke into his home. Molitaris must have escaped by leaving through a side door, jumping over railing, and tumbling down a hill. Overton said authorities found money that flew out of Molitaris backpack, and explained that Molitaris likely suffered injuries in the fall. Molitaris is described as a 5-foot-8-inch, 180 pound, white male.
Overton stated that Molitaris disposition could be unpredictable because of his current predicament, despite the fact that he has no known violent history.
“We don’t have any indication that he’s dangerous, but someone who is running that kind of operation with that kind of money can become pretty desperate,” Overton said.