Grow houses growing more elaborate - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Grow houses growing more elaborate

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Marijuana grow houses are being busted on a regular basis in Southwest Georgia, but GBI agents say what they've uncovered is just the tip of the iceberg.

Drug dealers are becoming better educated and equipped.  Now, agents want you to know what you should be on the lookout for.

It wasn't until 2007 that investigators first discovered grow houses in our area, but the ones they've found have been high tech and highly profitable.

A multi state, multi-agency bust of a home in Lee County in 2007 uncovered a hidden world of drug trafficking in Southwest Georgia.  When all was said and done, more than 60 defendants were charged with crimes related to this grow operation which was bringing in $400,000 a month.

Special Agent in Charge Kim Baker said, "Very elaborate and a lot of money has to be put into the grow houses initially to get it established so that you can reap the rewards of the hard work that the people who cultivate the marijuana do."

Even if the house looks normal on the outside, there could be signs a covert operation is taking place behind closed doors.  Baker said, "If you notice a home, especially during the daytime where the curtains are never pulled, there's aluminum foil over the window or blankets up to the window, that is a clue."

And then there's the stench.  Something agents say they can sometimes smell from hundreds of yards away.

"Marijuana, no matter what kind, has a strong scent to it," said Baker, "so if you're in an area and you smell something like that, it could be a clue that that is happening at a home."  Maybe even the home next door to you.

Another tactic these operators are using is power diversion.  Bypassing the power meters on homes to either lower their electricity costs or to not alert the power companies of something suspicious.

Marijuana grow houses also present a health problem for agents investigating them.The homes often are filled with black mold spores, which can lead to serious illnesses.


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