A Christmas Eve drug bust that led to the arrest of four people at a downtown Mountain View home was the result of a monthlong investigation by police officers who suspected it was a drug den, according to recent documents filed with the Santa Clara County Superior Court.
Police reports detail how officers began watching the home -- located on the 500 block of Church Street -- in early December and nabbed people exiting the house on drug offenses as they were driving away. More than 18 grams of methamphetamine, 1.5 pounds of marijuana and several grams of psychedelic mushrooms were found in the drug bust that followed.
Mountain View residents Mark Nietert and Kathleen Polito, both 64, are each facing one felony count of operating a home for the purpose of selling or using a controlled substance, along with misdemeanor drug possession charges. Polito remains in custody with a bail set at $15,000 and is due to appear in court next week. Nietert has been released, and has an arraignment hearing on Feb. 25.
The case began on Dec. 3, when police Sgt. Wahed Magee spotted two women leaving the house and driving away, committing multiple vehicle code violations in the process. The driver, who was among the four arrested last month, appeared to be under the influence of a stimulant, according to the report, and divulged that people inside the Church Street home were doing methamphetamine.
Two small baggies and a vial filled with methamphetamine were found inside the car, along with a meth pipe concealed inside a sunglasses case.
Magee stopped two more people leaving the home in a Ford van on Dec. 10, again for traffic violations, and found one of the men had methamphetamine and two meth pipes, according to one police report. The man described how he had arrived at the Church Street home that morning and took a hit of meth in the living room with Polito.
A judge signed a search warrant on Dec. 19, clearing the way for officers to search the Church Street home as well as any vehicles used by Nietert and Polito. The warrant was carried out by a total of 14 police personnel, including sergeants, officers and detectives, on Dec. 24, along with Zeus, the department's drug-sniffing K-9. A police sergeant was able to "push open the front door" without forced entry because the front door was unlocked, according to the report.
A search revealed the home had 18.4 grams of suspected methamphetamine, 4.6 grams of psilocybin -- psychedelic mushrooms -- and 1.5 pounds of cannabis. Polito was charged with possession of more than an ounce of cannabis, which is still prohibited under state law. The search was initially delayed, because the home needed to be aired out due to a "heavy cloud of smoke" from recent methamphetamine use, according to a statement released by the department last week.
During the drug bust, a 61-year-old Mountain View woman -- who was also the driver who was stopped by police on Dec. 3 -- was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. A 45-year-old Clearlake man who was spotted entering and exiting the Church Street home at the time of the search warrant was also arrested on suspicion of being under the influence.
Though Magee was responsible for the traffic stops, he credited patrol Officer Daniel Miller for spearheading the case and leading the investigation.
"I am very proud of the hard work and perseverance by our patrol officer in this case," Magee said in the statement last week. "His thorough investigation led to the removal of dangerous substances from the streets of Mountain View."