National

Brazen mom made millions growing pot in guarded warehouse near police headquarters, cops say

Stephanie Smith is accused of running a marijuana ring that reportedly brought in millions of dollars each month and included tens of thousands of plants.
Stephanie Smith is accused of running a marijuana ring that reportedly brought in millions of dollars each month and included tens of thousands of plants.

A mother police describe as a drug queen was detained on Wednesday in what might be the largest indoor marijuana operation ever discovered in San Bernardino, Calif.

Stephanie Smith, 43, allegedly ran the unlicensed operation, which included employees, guards, an advanced drip-irrigation system, multiple buildings filled with more than 24,000 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, and a $67,000 electric bill, according to San Bernardino police.

The outsized electric bill — linked to an old, ostensibly empty warehouse — helped lead authorities to the operation.

Smith earned millions of dollars each month, according to CBS Los Angeles.

“The huge operation is normally associated with a drug lord,” police said.

Smith lived in nearby Pacific Palisades, and police issued a search warrant of her home and detained her there, according to KTLA.

smith (1)
Stephanie Smith San Bernardino Police Department

She had paid cash for two warehouses and a home for the operation, KTLA reported.

One of the warehouses is on the same block as a San Bernardino police headquarters entrance. It was fortified with concrete block walls, gates and armed security guards.

Though voters in California legalized marijuana about a year ago, marijuana growers must still have their operations registered and approved by cities. They also must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

Smith took none of those steps, police say.

Officers described the operation as sophisticated and Smith as brazen, considering the size of the operation and its proximity to police headquarters.

An officer described it as the largest he’d ever seen, according to ABC7.

“This is the largest single grow that I’ve ever seen for an indoor operation,” said Lt. Mike Madden with the San Bernardino police. “There’s just floors with multiple rooms with plants. ... It’s a very, very sophisticated operation.”

Eight people were taken into custody on suspicion of marijuana cultivation.

Results from the 2016 election brought about new rules on the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana in several states, with more than half now allowing for the latter. Federal government leaders including president-elect Trump have voiced th

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments