Still Getting Baked at Closed Cookie Factory

Shuttered bakery hiding sophisticated pot grow

By Jessica Greene
|  Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009  |  Updated 10:05 AM PDT
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Pot Smuggled in Minivan

AP

More than 350 pot plants, worth an estimated $290,000, were seized from a suburban Berwyn home on Wednesday.

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There was a particular smell coming from a building in the 200 block of Seventh Street in Oakland. But it wasn't from the baked goods at the old home of the Kar Mee Fortune Cookie Factory.

Instead, it was something else with a hard-to-forget (and to some, mouthwatering) lingering odor: pot

A fire at the shuttered bakery led police right to a sophisticated marijuana grow Monday, complete with tubs, lights and other accessories to nurture the crop.

The plants, about 1,000 in all, range from seedlings to four feet tall and some of the buds were the tallest narcotics officer Rich Vierra has ever seen, he told the Contra Costa Times. Police estimate the grow to be worth about $500,000. None of the plants were burned in the fire.

Whoever was tending to the gardens had tapped into the electricity line to run the lights, ventilation and irrigation systems. An electrical malfunction sparked the blaze, police said.

The cookie factory was founded in 1977 but a new owner took over in 2007 and a year later, the factory was evicted. The building was pretty well protected, with iron gates on the front and protection on the roof and skylights.

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