April 02, 2004

Too Much Electricity

When your electricity bill and trash dispensing habits constitute probable cause: Elevated Electric Bill Prompts Pot Raid - March 30, 2004

MARCH 30--When California narcotics agents armed with a search warrant recently arrived at the Carlsbad home of the Dagy family (Mom, Dad, three kids), they expected to find one of those indoor marijuana production facilities. You know, the kind where the high-intensity lights stay on all day so the plants grow, grow, grow. As the below search warrant affidavit notes, a check of the Dagys utility records showed "excessive" electrical usage, consumption "very consistent with an indoor marijuana operation." In his affidavit, Detective Mark Reyes also noted the Dagy family's suspicious "trash dispensing pattern" and mentioned that a drug-sniffing dog, one Storm, "showed a positive alert" when he sniffed near the family's garage. Investigators had also planned to conduct some kind of fancy aerial infra-red surveillance, but bad weather grounded those plans. So imagine the surprise when about eight armed narcs raided the Dagy home on March 19 and found absolutely nothing. No evidence of pot anywhere, not even stashed in the children's toys. Seems that the coppers mistook the family's constant use of the dishwasher, washer/dryer, three computers, four ceiling fans, and other electronic devices as evidence of a felony drug operation. Oops. The Dagys--Mom's a homemaker and Dad's a general manager of 21 Shell stations--would like an apology from the Carlsbad Police Department. Sadly, we'd recommend that the Dagys not hold their collective breath. (11 pages)

The text of the search warrant is at the link above. The scary thing is the list of what the officer claimed he needed to search in order to get the "bad guys":

controlled substances, including but not limited to marijuana, kilos of marijuana, baggies of marijuana, marijuana cigarettes, marijuana seeds, derivatives of marijuana, marijuana plants, articles and effects used in the cultivation of marijuana, paraphernalia used for packaging, sales and consumption of marijuana; including but not limited to folded papers, paper bindles, clear plastic and cellophane bags and envelopes, scales, odor masking agents; and fingerprints, handwriting, papers, firearms, written articles pertaining to drugs, narcotics and the use of same, papers, documents and effects which tend to show dominion and control and possession of said premises, including but not limited to keys, canceled mail envelopes, rental agreements, receipts, bills for telephone and utility services, photographs, undeveloped film, video tapes, transaction records for illegal activity, notices from governmental agencies, documents containing names of buyers and sellers of illegal narcotics, United States currency, checks, bank records, stocks, bonds, securities and other proceeds from the illegal sales of narcotics, cellular telephones, paging devices, answering machine recordings and other recordings of telephone conversations; and to intercept all incoming telephone calls while officers are present at said premises....
Oh, is that all? I suppose if their gas bill had been high too, they would have had an invasive search. Posted by richard at April 2, 2004 08:05 PM