By Luis Patino, Information Officer II | OPEC
Agent Claudia Gonzalez thought the anonymous call in Spanish to the San Fernando Valley Unit 4 Parole Office in Van Nuys on March 28 might just be another one of those calls.

“A lot of people give us bogus info,” she said.  “It’s usually just people trying to get parolees in trouble because they’re upset with them … but you just never know. “

The caller reported seeing “lots of people going in and out of the apartment at awkward hours, carrying in fertilizer, plastics and electrical stuff.”

Gonzales noted the information and gave it to the parolee’s Agent of Record, Steven Garcia.
The parolee, who had registered as a transient, had visited Garcia a day earlier and had refused help finding a place to live.  

Garcia visited the Tarzana apartment. He and Los Angeles Police Department Officers reported that the bedroom had been transformed into a grow room and contained more than 135 marijuana plants in various stages of growth.

According to the letter of commendation that Gonzalez and Garcia received from their unit supervisor Todd Perrimutter:

“The odor was stifling … The apartment was so hot and humid, it fogged eye glasses. The bathroom had marijuana plants hanging from the walls (to dry), and the kitchen was rigged as a place where the marijuana was diced/chopped.”

Garcia said the parolee had wired the lighting fixtures to avoid detection of his high wattage use and was “stealing large amounts of electricity from the Department of Water and Power.”
“This was truly a team effort,” Garcia said. “Without Agent Gonzalez’ information we couldn’t have gotten this guy.” 

Gonzalez noted that Spanish is a dominant language in the San Fernando Valley and there just aren’t enough fluent Spanish-speaking agents in the office.

“I’m used to using my bilingual skills,” she said.  “Anytime I can help, I don’t mind.”   She was glad she took the call. “That’s a lot of weed we got off the streets,” she said.