Suburbs Attracting Marijuana Growers

Suburbs Attracting Marijuana Growers
Posted by CN Staff on February 07, 2007 at 07:11:19 PT
By Cassandra Braun, Contra Costa Times
Source: Contra Costa Times
California -- Schools, safety, serenity, self-enclosed castles -- these are the qualities that traditionally draw people out to carefully planned suburbs.But homeowners looking for a nice place to raise a family aren't the only ones seeing the appeal of quiet bedroom communities. Marijuana growers also are recognizing their benefits. And they are taking full advantage by turning million-dollar properties into million-dollar-making greenhouses.
Police agencies have increasingly reported uncovering large-scale marijuana farms operating secretly out of affluent and middle-income homes. Within the past two months Brentwood police alone have busted a handful of sophisticated marijuana growing operations spread across homes in tranquil, newer developments that appear to have been rented and converted for that purpose. Further away, outlying growing communities such as Elk Grove and El Dorado have also reported a proliferation of such operations."Most of them are individual potheads trying to make a few bucks," says Brentwood Sgt. Doug Silva, "And tearing someone's house apart in the meantime."In early December, agents with the West County Narcotics Enforcement Team uncovered an elaborate marijuana farm inside an affluent El Sobrante house after firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire that broke out at the home. Agents recovered nearly 400 plants; an additional 700 plants were burned in the blaze.In the recent Brentwood cases, officers found that the growers made all variety of elaborate modifications to the rental homes to operate the working farms. Bedrooms and living room windows were sealed up and garage doors were dry-walled to muffle sounds and odors. Like the El Sobrante case, growers often reroute electrical circuits to bypass gas/electric meters to avoid detection, which is highly dangerous."They'd like you to think it's no big deal, but it is," said Lt. Kelly Miles, who oversees Alameda County Sheriff's Office's narcotics division. "They turn houses into greenhouses and have electrical fires, which causes dangers to neighborhoods. ... Houses aren't made to handle a large-scale growing operation."It's little sweat to the growers, who rarely use the rental homes as living quarters -- they're strictly indoor farms, says Silva."You don't want to be living there. ... It'd be like living in your greenhouse."Police say amateur growers appear to have better access to more sophisticated knowledge of the indoor growing process, which allows more climate control for greater quantities and bigger profits. This may explain a rise in illicit indoor operations. And accessibility to rental housing in quiet, lower crime areas, which draw a less frequent law enforcement presence, makes suburbs ideal locations.That appears to have been the case when Brentwood police busted an elaborate marijuana-growing operation that was spread across three homes around the block from one another.Police arrested two local men who are suspected of growing roughly $700,000's worth of marijuana in specially renovated houses they rented on Pebble Beach Drive, Las Montanas Court and La Costa Drive. Police were called to the house on Pebble Beach Drive after the landlord became suspicious when he arrived to appraise the building. The house had been cleared out, but investigators found 2-foot-tall plants, growing lights, industrial fans and more equipment at the other two homes.It came as little surprise to investigators that neighbors reported rarely seeing the tenants. But then, failing to run into a neighbor in a bedroom community of commuters who work long hours is not that unusual.Resident Mike Hicks, who lives across the street from the La Costa Drive home, said neither he nor his wife suspected anything. But in hindsight, certain clues hinted that something was off."You never saw anyone except once a week when a younger guy would be there," said Hicks. "There were never any lights on."No activity appeared to emanate from the home, none except for the ceaseless hum of the air conditioner.Homeowner Kerri Anderson says she was surprised to learn of the bust in their neighborhood.She and others say that although the marijuana growing may seem harmless, they worry such operations will attract crime to their neighborhoods."We're paying good money to afford a house out here," she said.For now, Silva and other law enforcement narcotics agents are trying to urge landlords to get more involved in their property and renters, and encourage homeowners to get to know their neighbors and call police if they notice suspicious behavior.Hicks and other residents on the quiet La Costa, where the children outnumber the adults, may have been surprised by the revelation that millions of dollars of marijuana was growing under their noses and next to their immaculately manicured lawns. But they were not necessarily mystified by the strategic selection."I mean, what better place?" he said. "Cops never come up and down this street. I guess living on a nice quiet block is a good disguise."Note: People wanting to grow pot to sell find refuge in quiet neighborhoods with little police presence.Cassandra Braun covers east Contra Costa police and fire agencies. Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)Author: Cassandra Braun, Contra Costa TimesPublished: February 7, 2007Copyright: 2007 Knight RidderContact: letters cctimes.comWebsite: Article: Pot Growing Moves To Suburbs
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Comment #3 posted by user123 on February 18, 2007 at 11:56:14 PT:
Can I please have a quite grow house next door? It would beat the crap out of the noisy a-holes who live there now.
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on February 07, 2007 at 09:50:52 PT
Nobody can stop this! Let it grow!
Nobody can stop this, the time for Marijuana liberation has come, the more it is supressed the more it will spread. It's God's energizer bunny!
Nobody Can Stop This!
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Comment #1 posted by Truth on February 07, 2007 at 08:30:08 PT
to the author
A green house and an indoor grow room are two different things. A green house is made of plastic or glass and lets the sunlight in. A room with artifical lighting is a grow room. Maybe you should learn the basics before you start telling folks what it is....If our politicians would pull their heads out of their asses we could all grow cannabis outside the way God does, talk about energy savings. 
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