|Routine traffic stop leads to big marijuana bust
A routine traffic stop on Tuesday, April 1, untangled an apparent marijuana growing and trafficking operation that resulted in two arrests and Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety officers seizing more than 1,400 marijuana plants, more than 60 pounds of processed buds and $9,000 in cash.
At around 1 p.m., a Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety officer made a traffic stop for a violation and contacted the driver, identified as Daren Van Dyke, 34. During the stop, the officer discovered evidence of what appeared to be a growing and trafficking operation.
Van Dyke was released at the time, but the officer was able to obtain a search warrant of Van Dyke’s residence on Chapman Lane, west of Petaluma, based on when he had learned while talking to Van Dyke.
While the officer was awaiting authorization of the search warrant, other officers went to Van Dyke’s residence to secure it pending the approval. When officers arrived, they discovered Van Dyke already back at the residence and he appeared to be digging in dirt.
Officers found a large marijuana growing operation inside the home and in the garage. A total of 1,080 pot plants in varying stages of growth were taken from the residence, as was more than 60 pounds of processed buds. Most of the packed buds were found in a manger in a sheep field attached to the property and they appeared to have been hastily stashed there. Also, more than a pound of hash was located.
Police also found evidence of a second growing site allegedly associated with the Petaluma operation at Main St. in Monte Rio. On April 2, the investigating officer obtained a search warrant for that residence.
Upon the search, officers found 34-year-old Ismail Figueroa Chavez, of Larkfield, digging homes in the yard with a large tractor. He allegedly was burying marijuana plants and growing equipment in an effort to conceal them.
During the search of his residence, officers seized 380 more plants and more processed marijuana packages for sales. Chavez, according to the police report, claims he had been told by Van Dyke’s father, 69-year-old Carl Van Dyke, to disassemble the marijuana grow site and bury it all.
Both Daren Van Dyke and Chavez were booked into Sonoma County Jail on charges of cultivation of marijuana and possession for marijuana for the purpose of sales. According to the police report, charges are being requested against Carl Van Dyke as well.