US Marijuana Party

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sting Takes Roof Off Marijuana Network

Tampa Tribune, FL

LUTZ - Although it looks at home among its affluent neighbors, one house on Crooked Lane helped federal agents break up a multimillion-dollar marijuana growing operation that authorities said involved at least 10 houses across the Tampa Bay area.

The 4-bedroom, 3-bath contemporary stucco home at 18970 Crooked Lane is set back on a landscaped, shaded lot in a bucolic setting.

For several months, the house was operated under the supervision of the Drug Enforcement Administration as an indoor marijuana farm, part of an investigation of what authorities say was a network of 10 to 20 houses run by a single organization that harvested millions of dollars in profits. The indoor farms operated in houses in Tampa, Lutz, Hudson and Spring Hill.

The organization allegedly employed its own carpenter and an electrician to "jump" its source of electric power to avoid detection and steal electricity. According to a DEA affidavit, the organization also included a Realtor, who helped find houses that met specifications. The group used a type of seed called "Hog," imported from the Netherlands at a cost of $1,000 per seed. The houses in the network averaged 100 marijuana plants at a time. That number of plants would yield about 25 pounds of marijuana in a harvest, according to Dominic P. Albanese, the assistant special agent in charge of the Tampa DEA office, who said each house had about three harvests a year. Pot sells for between $4,000 and $6,000 a pound, meaning each harvest would bring about $100,000, Albanese said, adding that the annual revenue for 10 houses would come to about $3 million.


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