SkyWest pilot suspected in marijuana cultivation operation
A commercial airline pilot and Tahoe Donner resident is a suspect in a marijuana-cultivation operation, according to Truckee police.
Aaron White, a pilot for SkyWest Airlines, agreed to turn himself in to local authorities when he returns to the area next week, according to reports.
“We’ve also contacted his employer and I’m sure they are taking the situation very seriously,” said Commander Scott Berry of the Truckee Police Department.
Police said they discovered the small hydroponic growing operation in a newly built garage on Norse Avenue Monday.
White and Christopher Peterson, 31, who was arrested on suspicion of felony marijuana cultivation Monday, had been renting the home for only three weeks.
Peterson posted $7,500 bail Tuesday.
According to SkyWest spokesman Philip Gee no formal action has been taken, but the airline said White is not currently working.
“As no charges have been filed, anything we could say at this point would be purely speculation,” Gee said. “We have a strict zero tolerance policy.”
According to the SkyWest Web site, pilots must pass a pre-employment drug test prior to hiring.
Eight, three-foot tall plants were first discovered by the property owner and a town building inspector, who was conducting a final inspection of newly installed garage.
“We arrived at the house to find that the garage had been locked so we couldn’t get in,” said the homeowner, who wished to remain anonymous. “Luckily, my husband has a work shed in the back with a separate entrance that we were able to get in through.”
Once inside, they discovered that a part of the garage had been converted into a marijuana cultivation operation and that’s when they called the police, said Sgt. Dan Johnston of the Truckee Police Department.
“It was a low-level grow, but still fairly elaborate with CO2 dispensers and grow lights,” Johnston said. “It was also a hydroponic grow, using water instead of dirt.”
He said a later search warrant revealed eight or nine additional “starter plants” inside the residence itself.
“From the evidence recovered, it appears that the operation was for personal use only and not intended for sale,” Johnston said.
The owner added that the house – which had recently been painted, re-carpeted and even furnished by the property owner – was in poor shape on inspection.
“It hadn’t been trashed, but it was dirty,” she said.