Dozens of homeowners have cursed their luck during the foreclosure crisis, but at the same time, many people are using it as an opportunity to cash in – both legally and illegally.
While the majority of people looking to make a profit on foreclosures do so legally – buying them up as investments – a number of more criminally minded entrepreneurs are using them for an altogether different purpose: Marijuana cultivation.
A recent report in the New York Times discloses how drug dealers are purchasing or renting foreclosed homes in middle and upper class areas as the perfect disguise for their illicit farming operations. The dope dealers move in, and on the outside look above and beyond suspicion – taking out the trash each day, mowing the lawn, saying “good morning” to the neighbors each day.
The New York Times reports that marijuana growers are becoming more and more brazen, seeking out luxury homes that cost in excess of $1 million during the housing bubble. Once moved in, the cannabis growers set about transforming the homes, equipping them with air-filtering systems, high-intensity lights and hydroponics in order to grow high-quality, extremely potent marijuana.
Rust Payne of the DEA told the New York Times that the highest incidence of pot growing in foreclosed homes was in California. DEA statistics show that California is indeed the dope-growing capital of the US, accounting for over 70% of all illegal marijuana plants seized in the country during 2010.