Travel Agency And Clothing Store Were Fronts For Marijuana Operation
Five men were arrested this week on suspicion of cultivating about 400 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $200,000 inside a Montrose clothing store, travel agency and home, police said. The bust on the 2500 block of Honolulu Avenue took place at Blue Seas travel agency, which also sold medical supplies, and Fast Fashion high-end clothing store all of which police said were being used as fronts for sophisticated indoor-marijuana growing operations, Sgt.
Tom Lorenz said. "All you have to do is walk up to the front of the building and smell the marijuana," he said. The businesses had been converted into a full scale cultivation operation that included lights, ventilation and 381 marijuana plants, Lorenz said.
Fire Leads Cops To Cannabis House
Firefighters stumbled on a mature cannabis crop inside a house that caught fire in Melbourne's southwest. Fire crews went to the home in Egret Court, Werribee, just before 6.30pm on Saturday after neighbors reported smoke billowing from the roof.
They found three rooms containing about 18 mature cannabis plants and hydroponic equipment. Werribee CIU detectives are investigating the cause of the blaze, but no one was at the home at the time of the fire. Police are still searching for the people who were residing at the residence but as of yet no luck. The cannabis plants were obviously being grown for the purpose of distribution and the growth op may very well of been the reason for the fire.
Some Minnesota Schools Target Synthetic Marijuana
It can be made to look like tobacco, herbal incense or a typical baking spice. But it packs twice as much of the active ingredient in marijuana, and the side effects can be life-threatening. Synthetic marijuana is legal for all ages and typically sold as an incense. Officials are seeing more of it in St. Cloud- area schools. Several Minnesota cities have banned the substance, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration plans to temporarily control five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana. But St. Cloud school district chemical health counsellor Dan Becker said that isn't enough, because people who make synthetic marijuana can just create a new chemical recipe to get around a ban.
Becker has become the area's expert on synthetic marijuana. In his small office at McKinley Area Learning Centre, he has dozens of packages of synthetic marijuana that have been taken from students. "A year ago you couldn't find it anywhere," Becker said. But now synthetic marijuana can be purchased in local shops and online. Becker said the use of the substance has expanded quickly because it's so easy to buy on the Internet. Users describe switching from marijuana to synthetic marijuana as like switching from Coke to Diet Coke. The first time they use it, they can get sick or just dislike it.
"It's an acquired taste," Becker said. But once users get used to it, they never go back to marijuana, he said. The buzz is stronger, it's cheaper, and it's more accessible. It's also difficult for parents to detect. The substance doesn't have a scent; some manufacturers mix it with fragrances such as strawberry or cookies and cream. "How can marijuana compete with that?" Becker said. Every maker is his or her own chemist, mixing different chemicals to get the effects they want, Becker said. Then those combined chemicals are mixed with an organic substance so it can be smoked.
Car Crashes Into Man's Home And Exposes Marijuana Farm
An Ellicott City man has more than just insurance claims to worry about after a car crashed into his home earlier this month. Police say the crash revealed that 44 year old Richard Marriott had an indoor marijuana farm. Marriott and another person were uninjured when a BMW driven by 20 year old Bryan Bolster crashed into Marriott's house and burst into flames on Dec. 10. Bolster died in the crash.
Howard County police say fire investigators were inspecting Marriott's home for structural damage when they found the drugs. Police got a search warrant and found what they describe as an extensive growing operation, with nearly 20 large marijuana plants. Marriott was arrested Wednesday and is being held on $15,000 bond. Court records show he also faces trial next month on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Cannabis Plants Found In Romeoville Homes
Six people arrested in connection with an indoor pot-growing operation appeared Tuesday in bond court. Their next court date is Jan. 11 in Will County. The Cook County South Narcotics Unit and Romeoville Police found the operations Monday, leading to the arrest of six on felony charges of producing cannabis. “Unfortunately, it occurs throughout the country. Obviously, money can be made in this illegal activity, and it’s unfortunate there are people who are engaged in this activity. We are glad to see that these operations were shut down,” said Mark Turvey, interim Romeoville police chief. Cuong Van Tran, 31, Vinh Thi Nguyen, 51, Chien Van Tran, 29, Canh Van Tran, 55, all of the 1735 William Drive in Romeoville, have been charged with production of cannabis, a Class 2 felony. Bond for the four offenders has been set at $50,000.
Police reportedly found about 18 cannabis plants behind concealed rooms in the basement inside the home at 1735 William Drive. The group had an advanced indoor grow operation, with elaborate lighting, ventilation and irrigation systems, according to a Cook County Sheriff press release. Nghia Tien Dinh, 39, and Hue D. Tuong, 38, both of the 1663 Rose Lane in Romeoville, have been charged with production of cannabis, a Class 1 felony. Bond for Dinh and Tuong has been set at $70,000. At the Rose Lane home, police reportedly found another cannabis grow operation that spanned the basement, with approximately 225 plants. The house also had advanced cultivation equipment similar to the first home, indicating a wholesale distribution operation, police said.
Police developed information on the houses through weeks-long surveillance and investigations. They obtained search warrants Monday. Police reportedly found harvested marijuana in the basements of both houses. Charges are pending on this additional evidence. This is the second major grow house bust in a week by sheriff’s police which led to the seizure of more than $1 million in cannabis. This drug bust was the third in a month for Romeoville, Turvey said.
Oakland Suspends Pot Farm Plans
Under fire from the U.S. Department of Justice over its marijuana cultivation plans, the Oakland City Council voted just a moment ago to suspend the process for permitting four enormous marijuana-growing operations. Oakland City Attorney John Russo had warned the City Council repeatedly that federal law enforcement officials were skeptical of the city’s plans because they appeared to be in violation of state and federal laws. Reporting from a closed-door meeting with the city attorney, the council announced that it would put plans for permitting the growing operations as well as four more medical pot dispensaries on hold while fixes were made to bring it in line with state law.
It seemed clear that the city was worried about moving forward when it was revealed Monday in response to a public records request by The Bay Citizen that no applications had been submitted by Oakland’s many pot entrepreneurs just two days before they were supposed to be due on Dec. 22. The City Council will come back to the issue on Feb. 1 after changes have been made. More details later.
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