New Target in Fight Against Indoor MJ Growing

New Target in Fight Against Indoor MJ Growing
Posted by CN Staff on April 27, 2008 at 05:42:15 PT
By Stuart Glascock, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Source: Los Angeles Times
Tukwila, WA -- First they noticed a spike in home-based marijuana growing operations. Seattle-area authorities shuttered 450 indoor pot farms in two years. Then they zeroed in on the supply chain, targeting businesses that provide goods and services needed to grow the illegal weed indoors. Then they went after a mortgage loan company they say financed houses in which the plants were grown.
After a 13-month investigation dubbed Operation Green Reaper, the multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force arrested more than a dozen people, seized 15,000 plants and uprooted a suspected pot-growing network.Instead of focusing on growers or smokers, federal authorities in the Seattle area clamped down last week on those they believe to be players in the behind-the-scenes infrastructure, specifically two gardening supply stores and a home mortgage broker. "It is important for us to focus on the people who allow marijuana grows to exist," said Mark Bartlett, first assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle. "We had not focused on that in the past."A federal grand jury in Seattle indicted the owners of Greenhouse & Garden Supply in Tukwila and Scitek Garden Supply in Auburn on suspicion of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The indictments alleged that the stores had peddled equipment used to manufacture marijuana: soil, pots, fertilizers, pesticides, lights, fans and watering systems as well as specialized items such as electrical diversion equipment and air filters. They also allegedly provided "starter plants."They went far beyond "selling high-powered lights," Bartlett said. "They were providing start-to-finish services, advice and materials. They were even providing dumpsters." Internal Revenue Services agents also scoured the records of Jet City Mortgage in Kent in connection to possible mortgage fraud related to homes where indoor marijuana crops were found.Increased border security may have prompted drug dealers from British Columbia, Canada, to move operations south, law enforcement agencies said. Individuals have grown marijuana in their basements for years, Bartlett said. But drug dealers' heightened level of organization is new."They are going out and buying nice houses in nice neighborhoods," he said. "They put in their own people and supply all the materials and do the distribution."Many of the "grow homes" were in upscale residential neighborhoods and had every appearance of everyday homes, said Jodie Underwood, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. And the garden supply stores in suburban bedroom communities looked like ordinary businesses. Greenhouse & Garden Supply in Tukwila sits in a light-industrial and office park about one block from an Interstate 5 onramp, 12 miles south of Seattle. Neighboring tenants in the cluster of small businesses include a bagel bakery, a freight forwarding company and a tool shop.A green logo next to Greenhouse & Garden Supply's signage shows a water bucket, light bulb and bottle of fertilizer. Lights were on inside, but a "closed" sign hung on the front door Friday. Federal agents served a search warrant there earlier in the week.DEA investigators said one of the garden supply businesses ran newspaper ads showing marijuana leaves and pictures of growing equipment.According to the affidavits, authorities found bags containing denuded marijuana stalks and potting soil at Scitek Garden Supply. They said the business was connected to indoor growing fields comprising a total of nearly 15,000 plants.A few of the federal drug agency's investigations have focused on suppliers of growing equipment used for illegal operations, said Steve Robertson, a DEA special agent in Washington, D.C. In such cases, the investigators collect evidence revealing that the suspects "know the equipment was going to be used for illegal purposes."Note: Anti-drug authorities turn their focus to firms that sell services and goods needed to operate illegal indoor farms.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author: Stuart Glascock, Los Angeles Times Staff WriterPublished: April 27, 2008Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #3 posted by NikoKun on April 27, 2008 at 13:20:13 PT
This is NOT necessary... it is not important to stop marijuana grows... -_-Next they'll go after flower shops for selling dirt, nutrients and pots... And hardware stores for selling lights and such... -_-When will the insanity ever stop...Another big problem... Is that these moron cops are miss-representing what these indoor grow rooms were for... It's not always about drug dealers and selling the stuff... Many people grow at home to safe themselves money, and many more grow at home because they need it for medical reasons...
But regardless of that... ALL grows that get busted, are labeled as traffickers and dealers... -_-
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on April 27, 2008 at 10:18:23 PT
Just getting started!
These whip-smart cops are just getting started! What innovative law enforcement from these guys! Get the mortgage guy and the garden shop at the mall and throw 'em in a cage. Yes! 2 gardening shops out of 200 in the state are DOWN baby! high five!But they really need to take this brilliant technique all the way to be more effective. Don't these growers wear clothes on their backs while growing? They buy cars to move the weed around, they see doctors for medical problems, they eat food to be able to work the plants. We really need to get out there wiretapping, raiding, searching clothes stores, Whole Foods, doctors, nurses, accoutants, SO many more people are part of this evil marijuana growing! Of course you'll never see how much this little Nazi party cost the taxpayers, will you? All the tyranny in the world won't stop people from wanting to grow and use cannabis. This law enforcement just represents a transfer of money from hard-working, productive people that generate value and wealth in the economy to fools that waste time and money like flushing water down the toilet.
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Comment #1 posted by John Tyler on April 27, 2008 at 09:37:38 PT
Feds crazy over cannabis
The Feds are really getting desperate to stop the unstoppable tide of the cannabis industry. (Desperation leads to weird irrational behaviors.) Now they are going after legitimate businesses selling gardening supplies. In their zeal to accomplish this, the Feds donít care if they squash everyoneís legal rights in the process either. All of this time and effort at taxpayers expense to arrest 12 people, and the closing of businesses and loss of employment, that wonít even make a dent in the industry anyway. In the Alcohol prohibition days the Feds didnít go after merchants who sold sugar, cornmeal and yeast to bootleggers. They hardly ever go after gun storeowners that sell guns used it crimes. I wonder why cannabis makes the Feds so crazy.
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