An Auburn man accused of running a marijuana grow house in Lewis County was arrested this week after allegedly twice dropping off bags full of waste products from growing marijuana, including plant root balls and heaters.
Chaojian Zhao, 30, of Auburn, was charged Tuesday in Lewis County Superior Court with manufacture of marijuana, maintaining a premises for using controlled substances and possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture.
He made his first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon in custody, but was granted unsecured bail, allowing him to be released pending the resolution of his case.
According to court documents, on Nov. 26, detectives received a report from employees at the Lewis County solid waste transfer station that a man in a minivan dropped off eight heavy-duty garbage bags, which he found odd. The employee reportedly opened one of the bags and found what he believed to be marijuana.
The bags were turned over to detectives, along with security video of the man.
On Monday, the same employees reported to detectives that the suspect, later identified as Zhao, was back dropping off bags including “vegetable root matter balls” identified by detectives as being from marijuana plants. He also reportedly dumped a kerosene forced-air heater and “ecology blocks,” used to grow the plants, according to court documents.
While one detective examined the bags at the transfer station, a second followed Zhao back to a home in the 100 block of Holcomb Road in Lewis County. There, Zhao traded the minivan for a BMW and drove away, according to court documents.
The detectives stopped the suspect, who told them he dropped off the root balls and garbage “for a friend.”
A search warrant reportedly yielded 595 marijuana plants and 678 grams of dried marijuana bud, according to court documents. The house was reportedly used primarily for the grow operation, while Zhao lived in Auburn.