Doung Tran, 44; Thiet Nong, 46; Vinh Tran, 46; and Cuong Hoang, 28, were arrested on Jan. 20 on suspicion of illegal marijuana cultivation and sent to Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez. Officers found about 500 marijuana plants inside the house, including two pounds of marijuana in bags.
According to a press release from Sgt. Steve Bias, on Jan. 20 at 11:20 a.m. the APD received a telephone call reporting a suspicious rental van on the 4500 block of Imperial Way. Upon arrival, officers spoke with the vehicle’s occupant, who said he was there to clean up a house. When officers entered the house, they found evidence of an illegal marijuana growing operation inside. Three men – Doung and Vinh Tran and Thiet Nong – were inside the house.
“It’s becoming more and more common with foreclosures,” said Acting Lt. Diane Aguinaga. “In the ’90s, it was meth labs; now it’s marijuana grows.”
When detectives got to the scene, they determined that the men inside the house were in the process of dismantling the equipment. They found about 500 plants and several bags, totaling about two pounds of marijuana.
According to Aguinaga, last year Antioch officers shut down 11 grow houses, which averaged about 200 to 300 plants per house.
As police were investigating, Hoang drove up to the house in a moving truck. He was arrested and later released.
Bias wrote in the press release that the house on Imperial Way appeared to be a rental, but authorities have not yet identified the owner. Aguinaga said Tuesday that no more information is available regarding the owner of the home.
“This is another example of teamwork between the alert citizens of Antioch and the Antioch Police Department,” Bias added.
Earlier this month and in light of budget cuts and possible layoffs, Acting Police Chief Allan Cantando asked residents to be more aware of their surroundings and not be afraid to report suspicious activity. Cantando added that due to current staff reductions, officers might not be able to investigate narcotics crimes without leads.
Cantando applauded the caller, Luiz Queiroz, at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. “Had Luiz not made this call, this is something that probably would have gone undetected,” Cantando said. “It helped us make an arrest and put four drug cultivators in jail.”
Queiroz, who had recently attended a community crime-prevention meeting emphasizing awareness, said he sensed something was unusual about the rental van in the neighborhood. He saw a man sneaking into the house, which prompted him to alert police.
“The heroes here are the police,” Queiroz said. “They’re the ones that faced the criminals, so they’re the ones that put their lives in danger. We really have to watch out for them.”