A Lodi man faces an $800,000 bail after a marijuana bust that put him and his cousin behind bars.
Eric Nelson, 58, faces charges of possessing marijuana for sale, conspiracy to commit a crime and cultivation of marijuana. He and his cousin, Edward Angelo Pereira, of Valley Springs, were allegedly involved in a partnership to grow marijuana, which was discovered on the property of Pereira's mother in Campo Seco.
Pereira, 38, is accused of growing more than 1,700 marijuana plants. He is also suspected of possession of marijuana for sale, criminal conspiracy, child endangerment and possession of an illegal assault rifle. He pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment in Calaveras County Superior Court on Thursday.
During the arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Dana Pfeil said Nelson reportedly told investigators that their marijuana-growing operation often cost them upwards of $5,000 a month in PG&E bills.
Pfeil said at the arraignment that the amount is consistent with a large indoor grow operation that is equipped with lights that put out a high amount of fluorescent light, enabling the plants to grow in more ideal conditions.
Pereira was arrested March 12 by Calaveras County Sheriff's deputies during a raid at a residence on McCauley Drive in Valley Springs. The raid netted four arrests, more than 1,000 marijuana plants and 4.5 pounds of processed marijuana, according to a press release by the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office.
Along with the marijuana plants and processed marijuana, an illegal assault rifle with a large drum-style magazine was discovered along with about 10 other guns, the release stated.
According to the release, two children found at the scene were placed in protective custody.
Also arrested March 12 were Andrew Adams, 18, and Alicia Pereira, 36, both of Valley Springs, who are suspected of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and criminal conspiracy.
A second search warrant executed last Tuesday at a home on Chile Camp Road in Campo Seco resulted in the seizure of more than 450 additional marijuana plants that were linked to the Pereira's growing operation in Valley Springs.
Nelson was arrested at that location.
Pereira and Nelson are scheduled to appear for preliminary hearings and further arraignments on other charges on April 2 at 1:30 p.m. in Department 2 of the Calaveras County Superior Court.
Joel Metzger of the Calaveras Enterprise contributed to this report.
Contact Katie Nelson at email@example.com.