Pubdate: Thu, 15 Feb 2007
Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV)
Copyright: 2007 Nevada Appeal
Author: William Ferchland


The first major marijuana bust of the year that netted nearly $1 
million worth of planted and processed marijuana was discovered at a 
Tahoe Keys home.

Roughly two weeks later more than $560,000 worth of marijuana was 
found by authorities in a home along Tahoma Drive.

Jeff Catchings, commander of SLEDNET, South Shore's drug enforcement 
agency, said 117 marijuana plants were discovered Friday at a home 
near Tata Lane with a value around half a million dollars.

In all, the three busts netted marijuana with a street value in the 
ballpark of $2 million.

"I haven't seen this many grows in this period of time," Catchings 
said. "I would say there is definitely a spike in the number of grows."

Jonmichael Debettencourt, 26, of Santa Rosa; Kevin Thomas Parker, 27, 
of Bakersfield; and Erik Raymond Zortman, 26, of Petaluma were 
arrested in the first bust in the Tahoe Keys.

Debettencourt and Parker are charged with cultivat-ing and possessing 
marijuana for sale while Zortman was charged with suspicion of 
possession of a narcotic without a prescription.

Dane Gasper, a 37-year-old South Lake Tahoe resident, was arrested on 
suspicion of cultivating and possessing marijuana for sale in the 
Tahoma Drive arrest. Catchings couldn't recall the name of the person 
arrested Friday, except it was a 20-year-old male with $25,000 in 
cash stashed in a sock.

El Dorado County has guidelines for people growing medical marijuana 
( and Catchings said 
his officers have walked away from such grows. Usually, Catchings 
said, the legal growers want to notify law enforcement.

In the past three major busts, officers were told the marijuana was 
being grown for medical purposes, Catchings said.

Hans Uthe, assistant district attorney of El Dorado County, didn't 
know what to make of the recent busts.

"I don't know if there's any predictability to it," he said. "It may 
mean there's more in the community or it may mean we've had a streak 
of finding the ones that are there."

Some, such as Jon Gettman of, a Web site devoted to 
cannabis reform, argue the number of grows throughout the United 
States means marijuana legalization should be considered.

"The ten-fold growth of production over the last 25 years and its 
proliferation to every part of the country demonstrates that 
marijuana has become a pervasive and ineradicable part of the 
national economy," Gettman wrote in a report, "Marijuana Production 
in the United States (2006)."

"The failure of intensive eradication programs suggests that it is 
finally time to give serious consideration to marijuana's 
legalization in the United States," he continued.

Across the lake, the Placer County Sheriff's Department this year has 
arrested suspected drug dealers and seized 297 grams of marijuana, 87 
grams of suspected methamphetamine, 56 grams of suspected cocaine, 
$12,464 from drug transactions and three vehicles used to transport drugs.

The arrests stem from tips deputies received during community 
interaction, a Placer County deputy said.
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