Police task force arrests 6 in illegal pot grow operation
SELIGMAN - The multi-agency Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT) task force on July 13 arrested six people in connection with an illegal marijuana growing operation here, according to sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn.
The location was listed as the suspects' address, which, D'Evelyn said, would have allowed each person to grow 12 marijuana plants, as they each possessed a medical marijuana card and the Seligman property is outside the 25-mile limit from a licensed dispensary.
But none of the suspects actually lived there, D'Evelyn said. It's owned by Steven Walker, 36, who lives in Tempe.
"Detectives learned the suspects had been illegally blocking nearby easements to prevent access to the property," he said. "Persons attempting to use the easements were confronted by armed individuals and told to leave."
During the investigation, PANT found at least one greenhouse on Walker property, D'Evelyn said.
A search the first property turned up 52 marijuana plants and several guns, which were seized, D'Evelyn said, and led to a property on Moonshine Road, co-owned by Alexander Willing, 34, and Andrew Andrist, 35, both of Glendale, where officers seized 60 more plants.
"A crew of detectives also served a search warrant at Walker's home in Tempe where they found 82 more marijuana plants along with several bags of psilocybin mushrooms," D'Evelyn said. "Possession of this mushroom type is a felony drug crime and would preclude any legal authorization to grow medical marijuana."
He noted that even if Walker had caregiver status, the number of marijuana plans on his properties "far exceeded" the legal limit.
The six arrested are:
Jose Bernal, 35, from Prescott, charged with production of marijuana, possession of marijuana and fraudulent schemes and practices. He has since been released on a $10,000 bond.
Alexander Willing, 34, from Glendale, booked on the same charges as Bernal. He has since been released on a $20,000 bond
Cody Snyder, 33, from Mesa, booked on the same charges as Bernal. He has since been released on a $10,000 bond.
Angel Saavedra, 22, from Mesa, booked on the same charges as Bernal and additionally charged with falsely making a written instrument and possession or use of dangerous drugs. He's been released on a $20,000 bond.
Steven Walker, 36, from Tempe, charged with production or possession of marijuana for sale, fraudulent schemes, possession or use of a narcotic drug, manufacturing a narcotic drug, possession or use of a deadly weapon during a drug offense and possession of marijuana. Walker has been released on a $40,000 bond.
Andrew Andrist, 35, from Glendale, charged with production of marijuana, leading organized crime, fraudulent schemes, falsifying a written instrument, and possession of marijuana for sale. He has been released on a $15,000 bond.
D'Evelyn said additional charges are "likely."