A Rancho Palos Verdes couple is facing criminal charges after deputies conducting a burglary investigation stumbled upon an alleged $1 million marijuana growing operation at their home.
Deputies were investigating a report of a possible residential burglary in the 27800 block of Alaflora Drive (map) around 2:30 p.m. Thursday when they noticed someone matching the description of the burglary suspect sitting in a parked car in the 2000 block of Noble View Drive, said Sgt. Mark Moffett of the Los Angeles County sheriff's Lomita Station.
Deputies surrounded a nearby house, believing a burglary accomplice could be inside, he said.
A man, later identified as 37-year-old Tom Kim, came out of the house and was met by deputies, Moffett said.
“Upon clearing the home, detectives stumbled upon the elaborate marijuana grow operation within the residence,” he said.
Numerous plants were found in the backyard and throughout the home, which is in an affluent area of the Palos Verdes Peninsula near the border with San Pedro, Moffett said. The home is feet from Dodson Middle School.
One room contained a number of marijuana-filled glass jars, as well as packaging and scales, while another contained hundreds of plants drying on a clothesline, he said.
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“There was also evidence of manufacturing hashish, concentrated cannabis and packaging for sales. A washing machine in the backyard was located and believed to be used to make hashish from the marijuana plants,” Moffett said. “It appeared the suspects were supplying marijuana to dispensaries, but had no documentation indicating they were operating a legitimate business.”
Nearly 100 pounds of marijuana was seized along with around $10,000 in cash, he said.
"Based upon detectives' estimation of the quantity (of marijuana) and monies seized, detectives believe this was a $1 million-a-year operation,” Moffett said.
Kim was arrested and his common-law wife, 45-year-old Molly Hwang, later turned herself in at the Lomita Station, he said.
Their child, who was at school during the search, was taken into protective custody, Moffett said.
Both Kim and Hwang were booked into jail on suspicion of possession of marijuana and hashish for sales, felony child endangerment and conducting a business in the city of Rancho Palos Verdes without a license, he said.
They were released on $100,000 bond and both are due for arraignment in Torrance Superior Court, Hwang on June 6 and Kim on June 14, Moffett said.