San Bernardino, CA – A Pacific Palisades mother raked in millions of dollars per month in what police said may be the largest illegal indoor marijuana grow discovery in San Bernardino history.
Stephanie Smith, 43, established a lucrative small business plan that most entrepreneurs would envy: multiple locations, dedicated employees, concrete walls, rolling security gates, and armed guards.
But Smith also had a monthly $67,000 electric bill, and it was tied to an old, empty warehouse, police said.
Police soon learned that Smith not only owned the warehouse – she owned two. One of the properties was even on the same block as the San Bernardino Police Department’s (SBPD) D Street headquarters’ back door, KTLA reported.
Smith also bought a home and converted it into a third grow site. She paid cash for all three properties, police said.
SWAT agencies and other law enforcement officers conducted simultaneous raids of the properties on Wednesday morning, and seized more than 24,000 marijuana plants.
“This is the largest single grow that I’ve ever seen for an indoor operation,” SBPD Lieutenant Mike Madden told KABC. “ There’s just floors with multiple rooms with plants. ... It’s a very, very sophisticated operation.”
Eight people, in addition to Smith, were taken into custody on suspicion of marijuana cultivation, KTLA reported.
California voters legalized marijuana in 2016, but producers and growers are still required to register their businesses, and to obtain licenses from the cities where they operate, The Kansas City Star reported.
They must also register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
Smith followed none of the requirements, police said.
If charges are filed against Smith at the state level, she faces a misdemeanor offense, potential jail time, and a fine, KCAL reported.