San Francisco police on Wednesday continued a series of busts targeting large marijuana-growing operations in the Sunset District, raiding two homes, arresting three people and seizing 1,000 plants, handguns and an assault rifle, a police captain said today.

At about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, officers from the Taraval station raided a home in the 100 block of St. Charles Avenue, located in the Merced Extension Triangle neighborhood, police Capt. Paul Chignell said. Police had obtained a search warrant based on complaints from neighbors and other evidence of a marijuana-growing operation.

Chignell said about 1,000 plants were confiscated along with other items inside the home, as well as evidence electricity had been stolen to power the operation.

The find then led officers to another home in the 2400 block of 17th Avenue, where a fully automatic assault rifle, three handguns, ammunition and ammunition clips were discovered, Chignell said.

Two men and a woman were arrested on marijuana cultivation and weapons charges, as well as for theft of utility services.

One suspect lived in both homes, another lived on Lakeview Avenue and the third is a Concord resident, Chignell said.

The raids came after a man was arrested on marijuana cultivation and sales charges Tuesday for another alleged growing operation in which 346 pot plants were seized.
Chignell said today’s operation was the 23rd such operation in the last six months in the Sunset and Ingleside neighborhoods.

“By those numbers, it’s very widespread,” Chignell said. “Because there’s a lot more operating that we don’t know about.”

Police are often tipped off to growing operations by neighbors who report a strange smell coming from the home, hearing electrical generators running 24 hours a day, and seeing a home’s windows permanently covered up, Chignell said.

The homes are often rented and the utilities bypassed to avoid huge electrical bills, he said.

Walls inside the homes are sometimes torn down without the landlord being notified, and the large amounts of electricity used to power the growing operations can present a fire danger, Chignell said.

“As long as we continue to get complaints from people and information, we’ll continue to try to eradicate them,” he said.

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