Man unknowingly leads officers to neighbor's marijuana stash

mnorth@mercedsunstar.comMay 2, 2013 

ATWATER -- A man who accused his neighbor of stealing his weed-whacker unknowingly led officers to another weed-involved crime at the house -- a hoard of marijuana.

Officer Scott Duncan was dispatched to a mobile home park in the 5200 block of Crest Road on Monday afternoon after the man notified police about the alleged theft, said Lt. Sam Joseph of the Atwater Police Department.

Duncan made contact with a resident at the suspect trailer, 49-year-old Luisa Rangel, who took him to the shed where the neighbor thought his weed-whacker was located, Joseph said. When the resident opened the shed, Duncan didn't see the weed-whacker, but he did smell marijuana and noticed bags full of the drug.

Rangel signed a search warrant waiver and Duncan entered the shed, Joseph said. He found three grocery bags, one small blue bag and two large garbage bags full of marijuana, Joseph said.

Duncan and Cpl. Armando Echevarria found out that Rangel's 17-year-old son is a documented gang member and is on probation, Joseph said. Since the suspect is a juvenile, his name isn't being released.

Echevarria went into the residence with Officer Juan Sufuentes and Duncan and could smell marijuana coming from a room that was locked, Joseph said. Rangel said that was her son's room.

The suspect's mom said she didn't have a key to the room, so the door was forced open, Joseph said. Inside the room, officers found a clear plastic bag full of marijuana and a large tub of marijuana.

The marijuana, which totaled 26.3 pounds, was seized, Joseph said. The suspect and his mother were arrested.

The location of the weed-whacker is still unknown at this time, according to police.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.

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