That new family that just moved in down the street? With the kids' bikes in the driveway and the basketball hoop?
Police say with what they've seen lately, that "family'' could be raising pot plants instead of children.
Law enforcement agencies around the country tell ABC News' Law & Justice Unit that they've uncovered the latest scam in the American war on drugs -- high priced McMansions in leafy, high-end suburbs housing multimillion dollar hydroponic marijuana-growing operations. Cops call them grow houses.
Watch Senior Law & Justice Correspondent Jim Avila's report on World News With Charles Gibson on Thursday.
Potent, bright green buds of hydroponic marijuana have become more lucrative per pound than cocaine in some areas, law enforcement officials say, and homegrown operations are popping up all over the nation -- in California, Florida, Connecticut and New Hampshire, even Cleveland, Ohio.
It's a crime trend that's troubling the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which released a report last month saying that marijuana potency has nearly doubled since 1983 -- leading to what the ONDCP calls a spike in marijuana addiction.
In an interview with ABC News, the director of Drug Control Policy for the ONDCP, John Walters, said that currently "the single biggest cause of addiction in the United States among illegal drugs is not cocaine, is not meth[amphetamine] is not heroin. It's marijuana.''
But government studies and addiction experts say that claim isn't borne out in the data.
Earlier this month, Lieutenant Greg Garland and members of the three-year old San Bernadino County Sheriff's Department's marijuana task force raided a home in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Garland said the bust was one of their biggest and provides a telling window into the remarkable sophistication and planning that can go into an investment in a marijuana McMansion.
Experts say that tighter security along our southern borders is forcing a shift in a marijuana smuggling. Unlike coca leaves, which require the equatorial climates of South American to grow well, marijuana can be harvested in the basements of upper-middle class America.
At the Rancho Cucamonga home, authorities said they found 634 plants in various stages of growth growing inside the house. Since each plant normally yields about a pound of pot, which at this level of potency has a wholesale value of $3,500 and a street value double that, according to government figures, there was enough weed in the home to reap more than $4 million. The home sold for $695,000, with a $556,000 mortgage. Operational costs were estimated at approximately $50,000, Lt. Garland told ABC News.
The house was using enough electricity to power the whole block, Garland said. In a tactic that even law enforcement officials said showed impressive criminality, local power lines were carefully rerouted and rigged so that if someone from the power company tested the home's electricity meter, it would instantly shut down power usage to that of a normal home.
Lt. Garland said that his task force has raided about 50 marijuana McMansions this year so far, and have traced the owners back to criminal gangs from a variety of different ethnic groups.