MODESTO, CA - Following up neighbors' complaints, Modesto police narcotics officers busted an indoor marijuana grow on the 700 block of Coddington Way Thursday.
Seized were 663 pot plants worth $1,989,000 on the street, said police Sgt. Rick Applegate.
Arrested was alleged caretaker Fabian Ballesteros-Mendoza, 25. Narcotics unit supervisor Sgt. Kelly Rea said Ballesteros-Mendoza claimed he was brought to the house to take care of the plants and he didn't know who he was working for or the owner of the home.
"It appears he may have been working off a debt for being brought into the United States," said Rea. "This is a very common practice, where subjects pay coyotes (smugglers) to bring illegal immigrants across the border. When the subjects can't pay the coyote, they are basically sold into slavery to harvest the grows in exchange for their debts."