Strong Smell Gives Away Indoor Pot Farm

January 14, 2009 6:43:44 PM PST
From the outside, this Fresno home on West Beechwood Avenue doesn't stand out. But for one neighbor, the smell coming out of it was pungent and undeniable.Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said, "The odor and the smell of the marijuana is going to waft out." The neighbor called the sheriff's department which started the investigation in November of 2007. Fast forward to Wednesday morning when more than 100 officers from the Fresno County Sheriff's Department, the DEA and the Department of Justice raided 13 homes, most in Fresno, and in 10 of them found a sophisticated drug growing operation.

Sheriff Mims said, "It truly is a manufacturing plant for marijuana for sale." Ben Buford with the Department of Justice said, "You can see the lights, this creates a lot of heat, it's usually 100-105 degrees. That's why they're stealing this energy from PG&E."

Drug agents arrested 9 suspects who are being charged with federal crimes. Investigators found 700 pot plants, 65 pounds of it ready for sale, and 20 grand in cash. Sheriff Mims said, "When they take the time to actually remodel a home to put up new walls, they're planning for the long haul."

Investigators admit they're finding more and more of these elaborate indoor growing operations but they are much harder to find. Buford said, "Marijuana grows in the mountains and they're easy. This group went to the extent of putting out empty trash cans in front of homes to make it look like someone lived there."

Investigators estimate the street value of each pound of marijuana to be around 32-hundred dollars.

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