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Major pot ‘grow house’ busted in North Hall

POSTED: February 17, 2008 5:05 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Capt. Woodrow Tripp, right, and Lt. Dale Long, left, of the Hall County Sheriff's Department observe a marijuana growing system found at 4126 Belvedere Drive Tuesday afternoon. The grow house contained more than 800 plants.

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An overwhelming pungent odor of marijuana emitting from a North Hall home led to the discovery Tuesday of more than 800 pot plants growing inside.

Detectives came calling at the three-bedroom ranch house in the 4100 block of Belvedere Drive off Price Road on an unrelated investigation when they detected "a very strong odor of marijuana," Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Strickland said. No one was home when detectives arrived around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Investigators also noticed several surveillance cameras posted around the house. They quickly obtained a search warrant and entered the unoccupied house, where they found a sophisticated hydroponic marijuana-growing operation in
the basement, complete with PVC pipes, high-powered lights, ventilation and mylar-lined walls, Strickland said.

Sheriff’s officials said they found plants in various stages of growth, from seedlings to mature plants that had been harvested and were drying. They also found some marijuana already packaged for sale, Strickland said. Officials estimated the value of all the plants, had they grown to maturity and yielded a pound of marijuana each, at $3.3 million.

No arrests had been made as of press time Tuesday night.

"We do have a suspect and we do anticipate obtaining arrest warrants," Strickland said.

The operation is not believed to be connected to a pair of grow houses uncovered last year in Hall County that were part of a sophisticated pot-growing ring stretching across Georgia.

More than 280 plants valued at $576,000 were seized from homes on Benefield Road and in the Georgian Acres subdivision near Chestnut Mountain in February 2007. The home owners were never caught, but 25 people, many of them Cuban nationals, were indicted by federal officials in connection with the ring, which involved 55 grow houses with some 52,000 marijuana plants in 13 counties.



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