Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jun 2007
Source: Ledger, The (Lakeland, FL)
Copyright: 2007 The Ledger
Author: Jim Ellis, The Associated Press


Their Increasing Prevalence In Fla. Is Overwhelming Local Law Enforcement

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS - Marijuana grow houses are becoming so prevalent in
Florida that local law enforcement are calling on the state to create
an intelligence repository to combat the problem.

And Florida isn't alone, officials said.

More than 400,000 plants with a potential annual value of $6.4 billion
were seized from grow houses in the U.S. last year - up from about
270,000 the year before, the DEA said.

"The days of mom and pop growing a couple pots of grass in their house
is gone," said Mark R. Trouville, chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration's Miami office.

The upswing of indoor marijuana growers in Florida culminated Thursday
in a meeting among officials from the DEA and local and state

"We're so overwhelmed with the operational side of things and we're
only working in our own little functional jurisdictions," Highlands
County Sheriff Susan Benton said.

Florida has the second-highest number of indoor marijuana growers
behind California, Trouville said. In 2006, officials in 41 of
Florida's 67 counties uncovered indoor growers, he said.

"Local law enforcement is keeping up with the day-to-day operations,
but we're missing the intelligence piece to pull it all together,"
Benton said.

In these houses, the marijuana is typically grown hydroponically -
that is, using a nutrient solution instead of soil. It is usually cut,
dried and packaged on the premises.

Marijuana grown this way is as much as 200 percent more potent than if
the drug were grown outdoors, Trouville said. Growers can harvest the
drug in three months as opposed to six months in the fields.

"This ain't your grandfather's or your father's marijuana," Trouville
said. "This will hurt you. This will addict you. This will kill you."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek