A Merced police officer and a landlord were inspecting a vacant home Tuesday afternoon when they stumbled upon something totally unexpected -- about 40 pounds of marijuana worth $120,000 on the street.
The marijuana was discovered in a detached garage behind a residence on East Main Street.
Some of the weed was found hanging on a fishing line stretched 20 feet along the ceiling of the garage.
Another bunch of marijuana had already been baled.
Officer Jeffrey Gonzales said he could smell the marijuana when he walked through a small gate near the back of the unoccupied residence.
As he filled four large plastic trash bags with the leafy contraband, his arms broke out with a rash, and he said he was itchy all over.
Sgt. Jay Struble said about 15 to 20 pounds of the still-green marijuana was usable and there were eight to 10 pounds of buds.
The pungent odor of marijuana was readily apparent upon entering the garage, which is adjacent to the alley located between Main and West 18th streets.
Transients may have been living in the garage; numerous plastic bags of clothing items and toiletries were found, along with two air pistols that had the appearance of more-lethal weapons.
Gonzales said the house's tenants had been evicted in July and there were signs forced entry had been made into the adjoining residence.
Several field training officers brought trainees to the residence to check out the discovery and become more familiar with the ever-present marijuana.
Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.