Casa Grande couple arrested for growing hundreds of marijuana plants

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
Rommel Nabayan By Jennifer Thomas Rommel Nabayan By Jennifer Thomas

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. -- A man with an expired medical marijuana card and his wife have been arrested after Pinal County authorities discovered a massive marijuana grow operation in their Casa Grande home.

Rommel Nabayan, 53, and Carol Nabayan, 50, face charges of possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, production of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. They remain in the Pinal County Jail with a $25,000 bond each.

Acting on a tip about an illegal marijuana grow, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant at the couple's home in the 18000 block of West Hopi Drive, outside the city limits, last week.

Sgt. Pat Ramirez said detectives discovered 411 marijuana plants inside the home and throughout the property. The marijuana was in various stages of growth and had an estimated value of $400,000.

Detectives located sophisticated growing equipment, drug paraphernalia, 9 pounds of cultivated marijuana packaged and ready for sale, two handguns and a shotgun. They also found $15,000 in the couple's bedroom along with notes and ledgers pertaining to the illegal operation, according to Ramirez.

Detectives confiscated the money and four vehicles belonging to the couple.

Ramirez said Rommel Nabayan admitted growing the marijuana plants as an "experiment." He reportedly told detectives that he consumes the marijuana and gives the rest of it to others free of charge.

Carol Nabayan admitted to knowing about the grow operation but claimed to have no responsibility for it, saying her husband was the primary operator.

"Arizona voters passed the law which allows individuals with a doctor's approval to purchase or grow marijuana to treat certain medical conditions," Sheriff Paul Babeu said. "Rommel and Carol Nabayan foolishly thought they could use Rommel's expired medical marijuana card to grow marijuana and then sell it for profit."