MONTROSE — Five men were arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of cultivating more than 400 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $200,000 inside a Montrose clothing store, travel agency and home, police said.
The bust on the 2500 block of Honolulu Avenue took place at Blue Seas travel agency that also sold medical supplies and Fast Fashion high-end clothing store — all of which police said were being used as fronts for sophisticated indoor-marijuana growing operations, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
"All you have to do is walk up to the front of the building and smell the marijuana," he said.
The businesses had been converted into a full-scale cultivation operation that included lights, ventilation and 381 marijuana plants, Lorenz said.
After discovering the operation, police detectives received additional information about an alleged marijuana grow at Mike Boyadjian's apartment on the 1000 block of Justin Avenue, Lorenz said.
Inside the apartment, police allegedly found 40 flowering plants, a .357 mm handgun, a digital scale, an undisclosed amount of cash and an extensive ledger indicating profit earnings and money spent on the operations, Lorenz said,
Boyadjian, 32, allegedly told police he was responsible for operating the other marijuana grows, Lorenz said.
He also told police four other men — Shibu Koshy, 32, of Bell Canyon, Aris Nersessian, 32, of Glendale, David Davitian, 26, of Hollywood, and Michael Degirmendjian, 22, of Hollywood — had assisted him in caring for the plants, Lorenz said.
Boyadjian and the other four men were arrested on suspicion of marijuana cultivation and sales, he said. They were being held in lieu of $30,000 bail.
Glendale Water and Power officials are also investigating whether any utilities were stolen to run the operations.
Indoor cultivation yields more potent marijuana Lorenz said, which means it fetches a higher price on the street.
Steve Sarkisian, owner of Matt Cleaners across the street from the marijuana operation, said he never saw any unusual activity at the businesses, but noticed they were always closed.
"I thought they were doing business on the Internet," he said.
Chris Ingram, who works at PMCS-Professional Micro Computer Services, also across the street, said he often walked in front of the stores and never noticed anything unusual.
"It's definitely a shocker," he said.