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October 20, 2010
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400-pound pot bust: South Tahoe agents seize nearly $1 million in marijuana

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake El Dorado Narcotics Enforcement Team agents seized 398 pounds of marijuana following a California Highway Patrol traffic stop near Tahoma Thursday.

About 9 a.m., a highway patrol officer stopped a Ford F-350 truck headed south on Highway 89 on suspicion of speeding, said SLEDNET Task Force Commander Jeff Catchings.

When officers approached the vehicle they detected the odor of marijuana, Catchings said.

The driver of the vehicle, Chico resident Robert Daniels, consented to a search of the truck, where officers found 103 pounds of processed marijuana in duffel bags.

The marijuana was likely destined for South Lake Tahoe, Catchings said.

California law does not allow for the transportation of marijuana and Daniels did not have enough medical marijuana patients identified to justify the amount of marijuana he possessed under the state's medical marijuana laws, Catchings said.

Daniels, 62, was arrested on suspicion of transportation of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and cultivation of marijuana.

The traffic stop caused SLEDNET to serve a search warrant at a Chico residence Thursday afternoon.

With the assistance of the Butte Interagency Narcotics Task Force, SLEDNET agents seized an additional 295 pounds of marijuana and 162 “extremely large” marijuana plants at the residence, Catchings said.

The plants, which were being grown on about 40 acres of land, were up to eight feet high and six feet around, Catchings said.

Nine people were also arrested at the home, Catchings said.

Daniels was apparently paying the people $20 an hour to process the marijuana at the property, Catchings said.

“He pretty much had a factory going,” Catchings added.

Each of the nine people arrested are expected to face cultivation and conspiracy charges, Catchings said.

The narcotics task force commander estimated the value of the processed marijuana seized from the vehicle and the Chico property was $955,704. The plants could have yielded another $1.5 million worth of marijuana, Catchings said.

The biggest surprise about the case is Daniels' past criminal history, Catchings said.

Daniels is a “career criminal” who has a previous life sentence for kidnapping, as well as multiple arrests for assault, Catchings said.

Daniels' criminal history indicates he was recently paroled, Catchings said.

Daniels no longer appears on the El Dorado County Jail inmate lists. It is unknown if he has retained an attorney.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 20, 2010 03:13PM Published Oct 20, 2010 03:12PM Copyright 2010 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.