“My husband and I were walking our dog around 5:30 in the morning and we were by the school (Discovery Bay Elementary), and all of a sudden what looked like a convoy of cars (more than 10) were driving by us headed to Discovery Bay Boulevard,” said Discovery Bay resident Maryann Hussey of the May 16 event. “In just a few more minutes, we saw approximately 12 more vehicles turning from Discovery Bay Boulevard onto Willow Lake … My husband and I stood there watching. The people in the cars had on what appeared to be brown sweatshirts or jackets with ‘Police’ written on their right sleeves. We assumed something big was going to happen.”
The climax of a yearlong investigation code-named Operation Disco Dazed, Wednesday’s raids at 14 locations resulted in the confiscation of cash, weapons and marijuana. The estimated street value of the marijuana totaled more than $1 million.
Discovery Bay CSD Vice President Kevin Graves said the early morning raids astonished residents by its scale and scope.
“I think we were all surprised that something like this happened in our sleepy little town,” said Graves. “But we appreciate the hard work of the multi-jurisdictional efforts and the great job they did of cleaning up the things that needed to be taken care of.”
The following individuals were arrested: Steven Ortega Sr., 50, of Byron; Steven Ortega Jr., 25, of Discovery Bay; Marla Ortega, 57, of Byron; Matt Ortega, 21, of Byron; Anthony Giarrusso, 24, of Oakley; Jay Dupee, 50, of Byron; Brock Enrico, 25, of Oakley; Todd Becerra, 38, of Tracy; Steven Adgate, 30, of Rio Vista; Bryan Swiers, 31, of Byron; Kyle Schmidt, 25, of Oakley; Travis Olibas, 23, of Fresno; Jake Weterman, 22, of Livermore; Justin McMillian, 32, of Salida; Shawn Thompson, 43, of Mountain House; Frederick Laurens, 29, of Brentwood; Jason Siegfried, 28, of Patterson; Kevin Kuester, 43, of Fremont; and Joseph Mirante, 40, of Tracy.
The raid resulted in the confiscation of 14 indoor marijuana grow operations; 3,606 marijuana plants; 96 pounds of processed marijuana; 36 firearms, including assault rifles and a 37mm grenade launcher; a ballistic vest; eight vehicles, five motorcycles and five boats; and approximately $400,000 in cash.
“This large-scale marijuana trafficking organization set up shop in several neighborhoods and communities,” wrote DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams in a press release. “Through the diligent efforts of law enforcement they have been dismantled and the nuisance removed. The great success of this investigation would not have been possible without the invaluable assistance received from our law enforcement partners.”
The investigation began more than a year ago after DEA agents learned of an alleged drug trafficking organization focused around Grower’s Choice Hydroponics, a hydroponic equipment retailer located in Tracy and Hayward.