400 6-foot pot plants seized
South Lake Tahoe police made the second of two arrests Sunday in connection with a drug bust in the Bijou area that netted about 400 marijuana plants.
Tara Marie Bartlett, 26, posted $7,500 bail Sunday afternoon, the day after Jason Burton Webster, 26, was taken into custody and released on the same amount. They were charged with drug possession and distribution.
“These were major growers and distributors,” said Officer Brian McGuckin, who was on the scene. He estimated the street value of the pot at about $10,000.
The two allegedly ran a large growing operation from a house on Walkup Road. An anonymous tip called in at 10:08 a.m. Saturday of a possible burglary led police to the vacant house.
Two rooms of the house were filled wall-to-wall with 6-foot marijuana plants that were less than two weeks from being harvested. About three hours after police arrived, a white Chevrolet Suburban drove by with the suspects in it.
“I think they were bringing in more stuff, saw the police cars, and kept going,” McGuckin said.
Police stopped them. Webster, who was driving, had a key to the Walkup house. A bucket matching ones found in the house was discovered in the sport utility vehicle, McGuckin said.
Bartlett and Webster are not known drug dealers nor have known prior arrests.
Search warrants served Sunday at their home on Dedi Avenue and a unit at Stor-Mor storage on Industrial Avenue resulted in the seizure of three large plastic bags filled with plants.
Plastic lined the windows and walls of the Walkup Road rooms, where water damage caused by evaporation resulted in the city building department’s condemning the structure on Sunday.
“The whole house had been converted into a garden,” Sgt. Terry Daniels said.
The plants were grown with a watering system and grow lights.
Neighbor and longtime South Lake Tahoe resident Billie Bridges said Sunday she had questioned the activity inside the house.
“No matter what time it was, the lights were always on,” she said.