Police: Murder suspect on bail was selling, growing pot illegally

Watsonville Police collect a large amount of marijuana plants and other evidence Friday morning on Lawrence Avenue. (Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Watsonville police officers were at a residence on Lawrence Avenue Friday morning, taking out numerous marijuana plants from the backyard and going in and out of the house.

The incident began when the department’s Special Response Team served a high-risk search warrant at the residence on the 100 block of Lawrence Avenue.

The search followed numerous complaints about illegal drug sales being run out of this house, said WPD spokeswoman Michelle Pulido.

According to Pulido, some residents reported that drugs were being sold to minors.

Investigators believe that Eli Gutierrez, 26 – who is out on bail for murder charges – was illegally selling marijuana out of his home.

It was not the first time police have been to the house.

On June 30, Dominic Quintana, 32, and Louis Ledesma, 49, allegedly broke into the residence — which reportedly was an illegal marijuana dispensary — to steal cash and pot.

As they fled, Gutierrez allegedly opened fire with a gun, striking Quintana in his driveway, police said.

That’s when Ledesma allegedly opened fire with a handgun. During the gun battle, Ledesma and Quintana dropped their haul.

Police found Quintana bleeding from multiple gunshots in the front yard of a home. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to Pulido, state officials and the Watsonville Police Department have warned Gutierrez and his family about the illegal marijuana sales from his home.

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Cannabis Control mailed Gutierrez a formal letter telling him to stop illegal marijuana sales, Pulido said.

Because of the possibility of firearms being inside the home, and the two prior violent incidents, officers locked down the neighborhood and asked residents to shelter in place.

It is not yet clear what, if any, new charges Gutierrez will face.

This story will be updated.

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