Cops: Underwater Property Owners Seeking To Rent Out Their Homes To Dodge Foreclosure Good Targets For Marijuana Growers Setting Up Indoor Pot Farms
In Las Vegas, Nevada, KLAS-TV Channel 8 reports:
- Metro Police narcotics officers have seized about 7,000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of more than $20 million in recent raids of marijuana grow houses.
According to police, detectives carefully track the location of each grow house and look for potential trends in making the bust.
Police said the largest grow houses so far are in the southwest and northwest parts of the valley. Investigators believe homeowners are in over their heads and are the first to face foreclosure. It is also where large grow houses are now sprouting up.
"Empty homes, people who are distressed and are trying to rent their homes rather than going under in their mortgage - it's a combination of a lot of different things," Lt. Laz Chavez of Metro narcotics said. "But, we attack the problem with enforcement and with awareness."
Chavez said criminals saw an opportunity by turning homes into grow operations. "These are sophisticated criminals who are running 100, 200, 500 plant grows inside these homes," he said. "There are homes that are burning up, and they are endangering the lives of everyone around them."
Metro designed an indoor marijuana map that shows locations of grow operations. Police said marijuana grow houses are extremely dangerous, because criminals bypass the meter when they rig their own wiring to prevent tipping off the power company.
"They really have no consideration or concern for the community or where they are doing these grows - in residential neighborhoods, nice upscale neighborhoods, gated communities, country clubs - it really doesn't matter," Chavez added.
Police said growers are ready to protect their lucrative investments. Police officers have recovered more than 100 guns, including assault rifles.
Faced with budget cuts and doing more with less, investigators are doing their best to locate grows, but they rely on the public to call when something isn't right. Officers said activity, such as people coming and going during the early morning hours, could be an indication of a grow house.