Pot grow found next to day care in Gig Harbor

One of Pierce County’s largest marijuana grow busts in the past two decades took place next door to a day care in Gig Harbor.

Pierce County sheriff’s deputies didn’t know the children’s center was there when they accompanied utility workers Tuesday to shut off the power at Gian Minh Ly’s house in the 5100 block of Wollochet Drive Northwest.

Peninsula Light said Ly was using more power than his meter showed, so they drove out to disconnect his service. They asked deputies to stand by.

When a deputy knocked on Ly’s door to notify him that his power was being turned off, the deputy smelled marijuana.

Ly allegedly told him he was growing medical marijuana and had an authorization, though it was with a friend. He agreed to let the deputy look around.

Inside was an “elaborate three stage marijuana growing operation powered by an electrical diversion,” according to charging papers.

Pot was growing in every room of the house except the living room, kitchen and an upstairs bathroom, according to the court records.

In total, 798 pot plants were seized from the house. Peninsula Light estimated more than $10,000 in power at the house had been stolen since April.

It was among the largest marijuana grow operations busted in Pierce County in the past 20 years, investigators said, adding the home was destroyed by mold, rewiring and other alterations made to tend to the pot.

Ly has pleaded not guilty to unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance and third-degree defrauding a public utility.