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11 Arrested In Pot, Weapons Bust At East Oakland Warehouse

OAKLAND (KCBS) - Eleven people were arrested and thousands of marijuana plants were seized along with several weapons in a massive drug raid Wednesday night at a warehouse in East Oakland, Oakland Police said.

Investigators found some 2,500 pot plants, 50 pounds of dried processed marijuana, cash and a variety of weapons in what Asst. Police Chief Anthony Toribio described as a marijuana factory.

"We recovered $40,000 in cash, four handguns, one shot gun, two assault rifles," he said, along with a ballistics face mask, two sets of body armor and helmets, inside the warehouse in the 900 block of 89th Avenue.

KCBS' Margie Shafer Reports:

Oakland police indicated that it was one of the largest post busts the city has ever seen, with the seized marijuana having a street value of more than $1 million.

Toribio said the warehouse was not a designated medical marijuana dispensary, and added that the suspects - ten men and one woman - may be charged with federal drug law violations because there are longer sentences for drug offenses in federal court than in state court. The names of those arrested were not immediately released.

The assistant chief said the warehouse, which takes up half of a city block, was "a well-organized marijuana facility with a high-end video surveillance system" and other sophisticated security features, including doors that were fortified with reinforced steel.

He indicated that SWAT team officers who conducted the raid "were very concerned" about the likelihood that the people at the facility were well-armed.

Toribio said illegal marijuana grows are "problematic" for police, not only because the participants usually are well-armed, but also because such operations are targets for burglaries, robberies and assaults by other criminals who want to steal the marijuana.

He added that these types of marijuana-growing operations also present a fire hazard because they often have illegal wiring to power electrical systems for growing marijuana.

The facility on 89th Avenue came under investigation by OPD in recent weeks after police said they received information from community members. Inside the warehouse, investigators said they found growing rooms and drying rooms, as well as lighting and ventilation devices used in the cultivation of marijuana.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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