Police raid 5-story New York pot farm, an indoor marijuana jungle
Urban gardening has become a trend in New York City, but police sniffing around a five-story building in the Bronx found an urban garden of a different type: an indoor jungle of marijuana plants growing on every floor, some far taller than the cops who raided the unusual jungle.
On Tuesday evening, police carted 593 towering plants from the otherwise unremarkable brick building, as well as 75 pounds of marijuana cut, dried and packaged in plastic, ready for distribution. Authorities said that by a "conservative estimate," the operation did at least $3 million in business last year. Three men were arrested in connection with the case.
It certainly wasn't the biggest marijuana bust in New York City, not by a long shot. In 2009, 50,000 pounds of marijuana was found stuffed in a home in Queens, and there have been plenty of other bigger busts in the region.
What made Tuesday's discovery unusual was the location of the farm: a busy urban area on a block lined with similar five-story walk-up buildings occupying people, not leafy trees thriving under a sophisticated air filtration, irrigation and lighting system with fans and sprinklers to ensure healthy crops.
Police said they began investigating the building two months ago after at least one complaint from an area resident about shady activities there. But it was not clear if most neighbors knew what was going on inside the structure. Most of those who spoke with local media as they watched police carting out sacks of pot plants said they were stunned.
"It's terrible. Too close to home," one woman told the local ABC TV affiliate, WABC. "I've walked through here for maybe three or four years and I never, ever would have thought that they would have a pot factory in this building," a man said.
Others, however, told reporters that the odor wafting from the urban farm was noticeable and sometimes got innocent people into trouble. "Cops come on the block and smell weed and pull us over and harass us, and no one is smoking," Andre Cardona told the Daily News.
-- Tina Susman in New York
Photo: A police officer stands amid a pot farm found in the Bronx. Credit: New York Police Department