From the AP:
In Coldwater Creek, a middle-class housing development outside Atlanta, the neighbors mind their own business and respect each other’s privacy — ideal conditions, it turns out, for growing marijuana in the suburbs.
Police this month raided an utterly ordinary-looking red-brick house on the block and broke up a pot-growing operation with 680 plants arrayed under bright lights.
“You’d never know from the outside. I guess that’s the idea,” said Doug Augis, who lives with his pregnant wife and a toddler in Coldwater Creek. “That doesn’t give you a really good feeling.”
Around the country, investigators are increasingly seeing suburban homes in middle-class and well-to-do neighborhoods turned into indoor marijuana farms. Typically investigators find an empty home, save a mattress, a couple of chairs, some snacks in the fridge and an elaborate setup of soil-free growing trays.
Georgia, the latest busts averaged about 200 plants per house. With each plant yielding $4,000 on average per harvest, that works out to about $3.2 million per year, considering the plants can be harvested every three months.
Nearly all of the grow houses busted in Georgia were connected, police say. Fayetteville resident Merquiades Martinez — a Cuban immigrant — and his wife, a real estate agent, are accused of recruiting other Cubans to buy homes that cost $300,000 to $450,000.
In another elaborate scheme, more than 50 houses with thousands of plants recently found in Florida were traced to marijuana financiers in New Jersey who offered “relocation packages,” with 100 percent financing for the homes. Buyers would agree to operate a grow house for two years, after which they could sell the house and split the profits with their backers, or keep growing pot.