William Becker (Source: Phoenix Police Department)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Years after Phoenix police officer Marc Atkinson was killed in the line of duty March 26, 1999, he is still, in a way, keeping the city safe.
"My field training officer was very good friends with Marc and at least once a month we would drive by here when I was on training and my field training officer would light a flare in Marc's memory," said current Phoenix officer Jacob Lewis about the memorial that sits on N. 30th Ave. near Thomas.
It's a ritual of sorts Lewis continues to this day. And one that led to a million dollar pot bust last Saturday.
"I came over to 30th Ave. to come stop by Marc's memorial to pay my respects."
He says he smelled something when he got out of his patrol car to light the flares. "And based on the odor, I recognized it to be unburned marijuana and just the sheer, the way that I was overwhelmed with it, I believed it to be a very large quantity," Lewis explained.
His nose was right. Officers searched the area and discovered 300 marijuana plants inside a building at 3036 N. 30th Ave., only steps from Marc Atkinson's memorial.
"When we went, I think every officer that went in was surprised with the size of the operation," he added.
Investigators believe 58-year-old William Becker was running the operation. Detectives continued to "follow their noses" a little longer and found an additional 350 plants inside a building at 1818 N. 25th Dr. That brought the total seizure to 650 plants worth $1.3 million.
"This was by no means a single handed operation. There were a lot of officers that helped make this thing happen," Lewis added.
Police say William Becker is responsible for both buildings and grow operations and owns at least one of the buildings where the plants were discovered. He is facing charges of cultivating and possessing marijuana for sale.
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