A Murrieta business owner is accused of cultivating more than 300 marijuana plants in a warehouse next to his auto repair shop.
Following a month-long investigation, Murrieta police on Nov. 14 arrested Maurice Cortez Paschall, 38, owner of City High Automotive.
“Our special enforcement team were conducting an investigation into a possible marijuana grow at a warehouse, and it appeared the warehouse is associated with the business,” said Murrieta police Sgt. Steve Dyer, who oversees the SET team.
Dyer said the day of Paschall’s arrest, as Murrieta detectives were writing a search warrant for the warehouse, another group of plain clothes officers were conducting surveillance of the auto shop at 26520 Adams Ave. and nearby warehouse in the 41600 block of Eastman Drive.
“Within a couple of hours, a suspicious vehicle pulled up and a man loaded a bunch of items into the car and quickly took off,” Dyer said.
“As the vehicle, a Cadillac Escalade, was driving away, there was fluid leaking out consistent with hydroponic equipment,” the sergeant said.
A marked police unit caught up with Paschall on Ynez Road in Temecula, he said.
Paschall was arrested on the spot on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and possession of marijuana for transport and sales, both felonies, according to jail records.
In addition, Dyer said Paschall allegedly had a “collapsible police baton” in his car, another felony.
More than 320 plants “in various stages of growth” were recovered from the Escalade as well as back at the shop, Dyer said.
Paschall, who could not immediately be reached for comment, was released from Southwest Detention Center the following day by posting $50,000 bail. He is due in court Jan. 11.
City High Auto was open for business as of Friday.
“He conducts business—this did not involve the employees—but this was a warehouse, he had a kind of side warehouse about 300 feet away. There was a pretty decent grow inside,” Dyer said.