HENDERSON, Nev. -- Police have arrested a former CSN assistant baseball coach in connection with a suspected marijuana grow operation in Henderson.
Police arrested Ezekiel Parraz, 29, and Candice Blackwell, 28, after raiding a home in Henderson. Both were arrested on charges of possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with the intent to sell and conspiracy to violate the uniform controlled substance act.
Parraz, a former UNLV baseball player, is listed as an assistant coach with the College of Southern Nevada baseball team, but CSN Athletics Director Marc Morse said Friday that Parraz is no longer an employee.
"The college and I are surprised and saddened by this news," Morse said in a prepared statement. "Assistant baseball coach Zeke Parraz's part-time contract with the college expired, as is customary, May 31, and he is not currently employed at CSN. This matter must now proceed through the court system."
According to police, officers found 186 plants in the house about 6 p.m. Thursday. The house is in the 300 block of New Hope Drive, located near Green Valley High School, near Arroyo Grande Boulevard and Warm Springs Road.
Metro Lt. Laz Chavez said police received a tip from neighbors about an overwhelming smell of marijuana from the home. After some surveillance, police determined it was a sophisticated grow operation.
"These sophisticated criminal enterprises are looking for these types of neighborhoods," Chavez said. "They like the idea of being able to hide underneath everybody's noses."
On the day of the bust, Henderson and Las Vegas Metro police obtained a search warrant and went into the home. Along with the marijuana plants, officers found chemicals and plant food.
The entire garage was transformed into a grow room, including lights and a watering system for the plants. The garage door was walled off to help conceal the operation.
According to the arrest report, Blackwell told police that she had been living in the house for about three months and admitted to smoking marijuana. She told officers she was not aware of marijuana being grown in her house. She told officers that the garage where the marijuana was being grown is locked and that she doesn't have access to it.
In the report, officers said that a key ring that held a key registered to Blackwell also had a key on it that unlocked the garage door. Blackwell told officers that the keys belonged to her.
When police spoke with Parraz, he told officers that he does not live at the house, but that he visits Blackwell regularly, including visiting her house when she isn't home. He told officers that he smokes marijuana once or twice a month, according to the arrest report. Officers stated in the report they observed Parraz's car parked in front of the house three times in the four days police were surveilling the house.
Chavez said police are seeing these grow operations show up in affluent neighborhoods such as this one, because the growers think they won't get caught. Neighbors said they are shocked and said they never suspected anything like this.
Cam Silva has lived in the neighborhood for four years with his two kids. He says judging by the outside, he never would have expected something like this.
"I actually sell fireworks for my daughter's dance studio, and I knocked on that door for presales," he said. "You couldn't tell nothing was going on inside."
"These criminals are coming in and taking advantage of these people, and they don't care about the children who live here, the families that are here and the neighborhood," Lt. Chavez said.
Police suspect this grow operation was running for at least six months. Officers say these dangerous grow operations are popping up more often in homes you would least expect.
"They come in here, and they are all about greed, and it's not uncommon for us to find firearms, chemicals, exposed wiring and in some cases, these houses catch on fire," Lt. Chavez said.
Chavez said the two are renters and not the owners of this home. The owners of the home have an address listed in California, according to the Clark County Assessor's Office.
The street value of the pot seized is estimated at $558,000. This is the 83rd grow operation police have busted in Clark County this year.
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