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Crime & Courts

Police: Homer marijuana bust yields at least $1M in pot plants, 1 arrest

  • Author: Chris Klint
  • Updated: September 30, 2016
  • Published February 17, 2016

Homer police arrested a man in connection with a seizure of marijuana plants last week from what investigators described as "a very large indoor commercial marijuana growing operation."

According to a police statement on the Friday raid, 32-year-old Joseph Gabryszak faces three felony counts of fourth-degree misconduct involving controlled substances.

The raid began with Homer police officers and Soldotna-based members of Alaska State Troopers' Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit serving a search warrant at a facility on the 5300 block of Collie Street in Homer.

"1,012 rooted marijuana plants were seized along with 59 light ballasts and other growing equipment," police wrote. "The plants are estimated by the SDEU to have a street value of $1 million to $1.5 million."

Police also arrested Gabryszak, who arrived at the scene during the raid. He was listed in custody Wednesday morning at the Wildwood Pretrial Facility.

Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said police discovered the grow site recently, when their suspicions were aroused by the large building containing it.

"We were in the area on another matter and an officer noticed a large shack with blacked-out windows -- he got out of his car and he was immediately struck with the intense odor of fresh-grown marijuana," Robl said. "As he walked closer and closer to the building, it got stronger and stronger, and those two things were enough to get a search warrant."

Officers didn't find any sign that pot had been harvested or packaged within the building, but Robl said those activities may have happened elsewhere.

Asked by investigators about the discovery -- Homer's largest-ever marijuana bust, although Robl said more plants have been seized in other Alaska raids -- Gabryszak allegedly didn't say much.

"The only statement he made was that he started three or four months ago and he just wanted to see if he could," Robl said.

Homer police haven't seen many marijuana-related crimes since the legalization process started, according to Robl. The only other recent pot case officers are investigating is a burglary at the Kachemak Cannabis Club on Pioneer Avenue, in which 29-year-old suspect Gregory S. Kalmakoff was arrested this month.

Court records indicate Gabryszak's criminal record includes several misdemeanor convictions for moving violations like speeding and not carrying proof of insurance, but no other drug-related crimes.

Gabryszak was arraigned Saturday, with a bail hearing set for Friday.

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