A natural gas leak reported on Longhill Street Thursday afternoon led to the discovery of a large-scale marijuana growing operation with hundreds of plants both growing and drying. The growers at 293 Longhill St. rigged the property to get electricity for free by illegally tapping into power from the street, Sgt. John M. Delaney said. All told, police confiscated nearly 100 pounds of processed pot from the home, Delaney, aide to Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet said.
“I think this is probably one of the biggest that we have come across in recent history,” Delaney said, adding that there was enough unused growing equipment stashed in the single-family’s garage and basement to supply another half-dozen growing operations of a similar scale. “This is just the type of the iceberg,” Delaney said. Arrests have yet to be made but several may be pending, Delaney said. The operation was uncovered about 4 p.m. when Police Officer Steven Barker responded to assist the Columbia Gas Company for a reported gas leak in the road that was also leaking into the home, Delaney said.
When gas company workers and Springfield firefighters knocked on the door to evacuate anybody that may be inside, a woman answered the door and refused to let them enter. Springfield police accidentally uncover large marijuana-growing operation Springfield police accidentally uncover large marijuana-growing operation A natural gas leak reported on Longhill Street Thursday afternoon led to the discovery of a large-scale marijuana growing operation with hundreds of plants both growing and drying.
The woman closed the door and police were contacted to assist in the entry. Meanwhile, the woman, carrying a briefcase, fled the home without speaking to anybody and fled in a white cargo van. Delaney said investigators later determined that the woman took her computer hard drives before she left. Once inside, police discovered the large-scale and sophisticated hydroponic marijuana growing operation, Delaney said.
Narcotic detectives, Sgts. Steve Kent and Martin Ambrose, arrived on scene and applied for a warrant. In total the officers confiscated 40 large plants, 38 medium plants, 104 smaller plants, rows and rows of marijuana plant fragments and leaves hanging to be dried, Delaney said. Police also confiscated 50 purple electric ballast boxes with cords, 130 orange and silver ballast boxes, eight huge exhaust vent fans, 24 hydro-light fixtures with reflective hoods, four boxes of high-intensity light bulbs, cases of fertilizer, feeding tubes, reflective foil encompassing the entire grow, heat-sealing machines, packaging material, a Ruger 9 mm handgun.
Delaney said the illegal power hook-up was for the growing operation only and that power for the rest of the home was legally obtained through the meter. An operation of such size could easily go through $2,000 or $3,000 worth of power each month, Delaney said. Detectives found pictures of a woman in various areas of the house and firefighters and gas company personnel said they are of the woman they saw flee. Delaney said police applied for a warrant for the woman who was apparently running the operation and residing part-time at 293 Longhill.
“We know who we are going after,” Delaney said. Police will be moving towards the confiscation of the entire house as forfeiture due to the growing operation inside. Delaney said police applied for a warrant for the woman who was apparently running the operation and residing part-time at 293 Longhill. “We know who we are going after,” Delaney said. According to assessor records, the property is owned by Cathy Luong, trustee. It was purchased in 2009 for $417,000.
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