Marijuana McMansions

"With the price of marijuana increasing we're seeing larger and larger grows in very nice homes -- several hundred thousand dollar homes where they take over entire homes and use it just to grow marijuana,'' Garland said. "It grows the plant in a very controlled environment, where if it's planted outdoors, it's subject to the elementsin [a house], they can control the temperature, the fertilizer, the watering times, and grow a plant much faster with more potency.''

"A lot of it is, within [a criminal] organization, if we arrest one [person], finding out who their friends are or other relatives and who they associate with,'' Garland said. "Other times, it's as common as people calling our weed tip line and leaving us information and we look into it and find houses just like this.

Garland said the marijuana McMansion business is not limited to one ethnic crime organization or another.

"We've seen, in San Bernadino County recently, an influx of Asian indoor grows,'' he said. "Howeverwe've seen [the operations run by] all different nationalitiesjust recently, we've seen several Asian ones on the rise, we've had Hispanics, blacks and whites, all very similar houses to this one. I think we're progressing at the same rate they arethree or four years ago, we were successful in finding maybe 15 of these similar type houses in a year. As they get more sophisticatedwe'll see a group of five or six houses and they'll start them all within the same month. So, we're finding five or six a month as well."

Quiet Neighbors Raise Suspicions

Neighbors of the raided California home who spoke to ABC News characterized the home's residents as strangely quiet and secretive. The fruits of the raid, they said, answered puzzling questions they had had about the house for some time.

"We never saw them,'' said neighbor Joan Howell. "And this is a really friendly neighborhood. Everyone knows each other. We're always outside and we never saw them."

Neighbor Jean Mendez agreed.

"The day they moved in, I went to go meet them and they weren't interested in meeting me. They seemed very nice but they kind of shushed their two year old to come say hi to me and kind of said, 'I don't speak English.' And they smiled. They seemed to be very nice people. But I never talked to them.

"It was kind of a weird situation, [be]cause they were never washing their car. They never had their kids outside playing. They, um, never wanted to talk to us and we would see them from the front yard just going from the car into the house or a car backed up to the garage backwards, like they were loading something up. But never in a year did we talk to them or see their kids playing or never walking to the school bus."

"It's a very nice neighborhood,'' Mendez concluded. "And it's a very close neighborhood. We all do progressive dinners, we have block parties, spontaneous block parties all the time. We always go to each other's houses for birthdays. If you want to have a party make sure it's big because just the neighbors alone is a big group. And they were never part of it because we never knew them,'' she said of the family living in the raided home.

A Danger to Kids

To Walters of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, homes like these pose as potent a danger to the community at large and the "front" families living in the grow houses as meth labs and crack cocaine labs.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: The first explosion knocked down a runner at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
PHOTO: The scene near the finish line of the Boston Marathon is seen in this April 16, 2013 file photo. Inset, suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are seen. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured.
Elise Amendola/AP Photo; Inset: Lowell Sun, FBI/AP Photo
PHOTO: Pulaski Township Police Sgt. Chad Adam seen here in this undated Facebook photo, went undercover as an Amish woman.
Pulaski Township Police Department/Facebook