Deputies find 345 marijuana plants in Atwater home

Merced County Sheriff’s detectives uncovered a “huge” indoor marijuana growing operation Friday morning, according to deputies.

Detectives served a warrant at 10 a.m. in the 6300 block of Josie Street in Atwater, according to Deputy Delray Shelton, where they found marijuana plants under 50 thousand-watt lamps throughout the six-room house.

Shelton said no one was found in the home, and there have been no arrests related to the grow site. Deputies removed 345 marijuana plants valued at more than $500,000.

Deputies said the house had the potential to produce 1,200 to 1,500 pounds of marijuana in a year. The house was using an illegal bypass to steal about $4,000 of electricity a month, deputies said.

The grow has been in place since about April, deputies said, so the operation could have stolen more than $40,000 in power.

Deputies said illegally diverting electricity is a fire hazard because the wiring melts and ignites.

The case remains under investigation.