Deputies bust marijuana grow house in east Orange

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Jun 21, 2007
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Neighbors said they never saw the renters who leased the house on Havasu Drive in east Orange County.

But sometimes they smelled evidence that somebody lived there.

"This neighborhood always smells like someone's getting high," Nidra James, 26, said she told a friend.

James, who lives across the street with her 4-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter, was onto something, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

Early Sunday, as neighbors watched, deputies busted a marijuana-grow operation, confiscating plants they say would have produced a crop with a street value of $500,000.

A neighbor told a deputy on patrol Saturday night that there might have been squatters at the house, so the deputy knocked on the door. The presumed tenants opened the door, and the deputy smelled marijuana, said Orange sheriff's Sgt. David Stephens.

She came back several hours later with a warrant, and deputies found what they described as an elaborate grow house and about 100 plants ranging from small to 5 feet tall in the bedrooms. It would take several months for plants to grow that tall, Stephens said.

Someone had bypassed the electric meters and set up two large air-conditioning units in the garage to provide an ideal climate for the marijuana to thrive, deputies said.

A man and a woman are in custody and are expected to be charged with cultivating marijuana. Their names were not released because they had not been arrested. Deputies are investigating whether the two are tied to other grow houses.

Property records show an Orlando couple bought the house last September for $69,000. They don't live there.


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