Crime - Sacto 911

Amador County man arrested after large marijuana growing operation found near Ione

Amador County sheriff’s officials report that a convicted felon is behind bars accused operating a large indoor and outdoor marijuana cultivation site on property south of Ione.

About 3:30 p.m. Sept. 3, members of the Amador County Combined Narcotics Enforcement Team, assisted by the Amador County Probation Department, executed a search warrant at the residence of 35-year-old Justin Lawrence Brach in the 7600 block of Goose Hill Ranch Road. Brach’s residence was identified in June as the location of a large marijuana growing operation, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.

During the investigation and search of the property, law enforcement agents found a sophisticated indoor marijuana cultivation site in the attached garage, which had been remodeled for the purpose of growing marijuana plants, authorities said. It included multiple lights and ballast, carbon dioxide generators, reflective wall material, and electronic watering and feeding equipment. Authorities said the indoor site also included a fully functional butane honey oil extraction laboratory, along with a gas-powered industrial-size marijuana processing mill.

The processing area reportedly contained boxes and packaging material consistent with marijuana being packaged for sale and shipment via commercial shipping companies. Sheriff’s officials said agents found a sealed box ready for shipment that contained numerous individual packages wrapped to look like Christmas gifts. They were found to contain sealed baggies stuffed with approximately 10 pounds of processed marijuana, according to the news release.

The residence also reportedly contained digital scales, hundreds of individual containers used to package butane honey oil for sales, hundreds of homemade marijuana edibles intended for sale, approximately a pound of butane honey oil and 60 pounds of processed marijuana.

Authorities said the room housing the butane honey oil lab shared a wall with the bedroom of a 4-month-old child.

Law enforcement agents found a handwritten ledger describing Brach’s plans to make a million dollars selling marijuana within the first two years of his business, sheriff’s officials said.

A loaded handgun also reportedly was found in the residence. As a convicted felon, Brach is precluded from possessing firearms, officials said.

At the rear of the residence, agents found an outdoor cultivation operation, consisting of 40 growing marijuana plants, next to a large green house containing an additional 147 growing marijuana plants. Sheriff’s officials said Brach told agents that he uses about 0.5 grams of marijuana per month for his medical marijuana purposes and that he was growing the majority of the marijuana to make a line of marijuana-infused candy to market in marijuana dispensaries and head shops.

Authorities said preliminary estimates indicate the Brach’s operation could have yielded 200 pounds of processed marijuana had the crop been harvested.

Sheriff’s officials said Amador County Child Protective Services personnel responded to handle the child endangerment issue at the residence.

Brach was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance, cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, being a felon in possession of a firearm, conspiracy and child endangerment. He was booked into Amador County Jail with bail set at $100,000.