Police bust major marijuana operation allegedly run by Montrose business

Three men with ties to a Montrose irrigation business were arrested Wednesday night after police seized 700 marijuana plants inside a warehouse in Van Nuys and another 200 at the home of one of the men.

The men — Steve Nemenyi, 47, Glenn Poppler, 42, and Mark Mayer, 46 — were arrested by Glendale police on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale following the drug bust, which also yielded more than 50 pounds of pot. They were released about 3:50 a.m. Thursday after posting $100,000 bail, police said.

“It was a very sophisticated grow,” Police Narcotics Sgt. Luis Pasache said. “Everything was pretty much operated on its own.”

Pasache suspected the men were operating out of the warehouse for the last two years, allegedly harvesting marijuana once or twice a month, he added.

The bust came after months of investigation that included surveillance of Green Light Hydroponics on the 2600 block of Honolulu Avenue in Montrose, where Glendale Police Lt. Scott Bickle said investigators also found two pounds of marijuana Wednesday night.

“The sales of drugs will not be tolerated and will be investigated to its fullest extent,” Bickle said in a statement, adding that his goal was to make it “very difficult” for drug dealers to operate within the city.

The street value for the dried marijuana was estimated to be at least $200,000, police officials said. The value of the plants was not immediately available.

The business, which sports the slogan “Our business is growing,” reportedly specializes in hydroponics, a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without soil.

Calls to the store went unanswered Thursday.

An officer received a tip last year that Poppler was possibly selling marijuana out of the store, so detectives began monitoring him. They linked him to a home in the San Fernando Valley, and from there followed him to the warehouse in Van Nuys, where he was allegedly seen coming out with gardening gloves.

Detectives arrested Poppler and got a warrant to search the warehouse, where they found the 700 plants and 10 pounds of dried marijuana, Pasache said.

Meanwhile, Nemenyi, who owns the hydroponic business, made a stop at the warehouse, so police also obtained a warrant to search his store.

At the store, detectives found two pounds of marijuana inside a duffel bag in an office and arrested Mayer, an employee, police said. Detectives also found packaging material that matched others discovered at the warehouse.

Police also seized 200 plants and one pound of dried marijuana at Poppler's home. Another 40 pounds of marijuana, two guns and $50,000 in cash were discovered at Nemenyi's home in Northridge, police said.

The haul was larger than a bust in 2010 inside Blue Seas travel agency and Fast Fashion high-end clothing store, which were just a block away from the hydroponics store. At that bust, police recovered and destroyed more than 400 marijuana plants, which had a street value of about $200,000.

The agency and clothing store allegedly served as a front for a sophisticated indoor marijuana growing operation that included lights, ventilation and other measures to keep it hidden.

Indoor cultivation yields marijuana that is more potent than most field-grown varieties, which means it fetches a higher price on the street.

Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA

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