Man charged after Racine police find marijuana grow operation

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A man used marijuana to manage his symptoms from being mentally ill and then started growing it, but now he is charged with maintaining a drug trafficking place.

Jesse Ollarzabal, 40, of Racine, was charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday with felony counts of manufacturing marijuana and maintaining a drug trafficking place.

If convicted, Ollarzabal faces up to 9 years six months in prison and/or fines up to $20,000.

According to the criminal complaint, officers with the Racine Police Department executed a search warrant on a residence at 1447 Summit Avenue because they suspected the owner had a marijuana grow operation. During the search, they found six marijuana plants. Some had been harvested, others had not. On the main level of the home in a four seasons room, they found a jar containing large buds of marijuana and a drying box filled with marijuana leaves.

Ollarzabal was not home when the search warrant was being conducted. But he came to the police department afterward. During an interview, he told police he has “bouts of schizophrenia and anger issues.” He has used marijuana his whole life to help him cope with the illness. But about a year ago, he was robbed by his dealer at gunpoint and he stole $600 from him. So he started to grow his own marijuana rather than buying it on the streets.

During the interview, Ollarzabal denied selling marijuana and said he only grew it for his own use. He did admit that his marijuana was higher quality than “would come from Mexico.” Investigators challenged him on whether his two sons were involved in the operation, but he denied their involvement or that they use marijuana.

The total amount of marijuana found in the home weighed 1 pound 4 ounces.

Ollarzabal was in court on Wednesday. Racine County Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch set a signature bond of $1,000 and an initial appearance of 1:30 p.m. Jan. 17.