Officer follows his nose to large pot bust
A Nevada City Police Officer working the graveyard shift on Saturday morning went to a gas station for a cup of coffee and instead found a van full of marijuana, according to the Nevada City Police Department and employees at the Express Mart in Nevada City.
Nevada City Police officers arrested Ethan Kirk, 28, on Saturday morning for allegedly transporting over one ounce of marijuana, marijuana cultivation and possession of marijuana over one ounce, according to records at the Sheriff’s office. Kirk’s bail is set at $20,500.
During the bust, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office narcotics task force seized 36 plants from the van that Kirk had been driving, NCPD Officer Tim Ewing said.
Although the van was registered in Oregon, the Sheriff’s report did not say where Kirk was from, and NCPD investigators were unavailable over the weekend to provide further details.
The surprise bust began when Officer Tucker Huey pulled into the Express Mart gas station on Sacramento Street for a cup of coffee at around 5:30 a.m., according to dispatcher’s reports and Express Mart employees.
The clerk on duty told him that the white van with Oregon plates in the parking lot had been there for several hours, according to Express Mart employee Betty Price. The parking lot is located at the side of the Express Mart building.
“Officer Huey came out of the Express Mart and smelled the strong odor of fresh marijuana,” Ewing said.
According to Ewing, Huey looked through the van’s window and saw “a substantial amount of marijuana in the vehicle.”
The driver had been asleep, Price said.
Officers from the narcotics task force and the NCPD assisted in seizing the plants, Ewing said.
Price and other Express Mart employees arriving for work during the bust found the parking lot transformed into a crime scene.
“Pretty soon there were three squad cars and the Sheriff’s Department SUV out here,” said Price.
Law enforcement officials laid the marijuana plants on the ground next to the van, took pictures of them and loaded them into their squad cars, Price said. Later, a tow truck hauled away the van.
Employees working the graveyard shift at the Express Mart, which is the only store and gas station in Nevada City open 24 hours, often report crimes that they witness in the early hours of the morning, according to dispatcher’s reports at the Sheriff’s office.
“Never a dull moment around here,” Price said.
To contact Staff Writer Jill Bauerle, e-mail jillb@the union.com or call 477-4219.
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