Cops, feds bust large-scale pot greenhouse in Plainfield
By Brian Stanley AND TONY GRAF firstname.lastname@example.org January 29, 2013 11:58PM
Plainfield Police Sergeant Mike Fisher looks over some of the marijuana plants that investigators found in the home at 12914 Tipperary Lane in Plainfield, IL on Tuesday January 29, 2013. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 2, 2013 7:38AM
PLAINFIELD — From the outside, the house on Tipperary Lane — just a few doors down from a neighborhood park — looked like any other in the King’s Crossing subdivision, perhaps with less traffic and fewer signs of life.
But authorities say the two-story house was actually a shell for an elaborate marijuana farm, complete with a network of heaters, lamps, ventilation and an irrigation system for its crops that stood up to 3-feet high. Authorities raided the home Tuesday night, an effort that netted more than 100 pills of ecstasy and an enormous amount of marijuana — many pounds of loose pot and 92 plants with an estimated street value of more than $500,000.
“We could smell (marijuana) when we got within 10 feet of the front door,” police Sgt. Mike Fisher said.
The operation was the largest and most sophisticated that Plainfield Chief John Konopek could recall, the chief said.
Plainfield police arrested Quy Doan, 30, of 298 Zinnia Drive in Romeoville. He was being held at the Will County Jail in connection with the raid, charged with drug possession, marijuana possession, delivery of drugs, delivery of marijuana and possession of marijuana plants.
Investigators had the man under surveillance for suspected drug activity for some time, Konopek said, and police stopped him about 6 p.m. Tuesday as he was driving away from the house. Police and Drug Enforcement Administration agents then went into the house with a search warrant, he said.
On Wednesday, groups of schoolchildren, bundled up in colorful coats for the winter, walked down the sidewalk and right past the alleged drug house on their way home.
Kristine Pursel, a neighborhood resident, said she was saddened that the alleged activity took place in a house near a neighborhood park — and near a bus stop where high school, middle school and elementary school students are dropped off daily.
And yet, Pursel said, she never noticed any suspicious activity or any disturbances.
Ken Schwall, another resident, also hadn’t noticed anything unusual at the house.
“They were very quiet,” Schwall said of the people he observed using the house. “You’d never see more than two people in the car. They were never outside.”
Inside, there were few signs anyone ever lived there other than a room with a bed, a display case of Spawn action figures, many Super Nintendo video game cartridges and DVDs. All of the windows in the house reportedly were covered with shades when police entered.
Besides a few couches, a weight bench and an artificial Christmas tree near the front door, most of the house’s contents could be used to grow marijuana. Although, police said they did not believe the marijuana was sold from the house.
A large aquarium was turned on in the living room but appeared empty through the algae-covered glass.
“Looks like they took better care of their crops than their fish,” Fisher said.
Police, however, found marijuana in nearly every room.
Upstairs, small marijuana plants were starting to grow in the closet of one bedroom while smaller “hotbox” rooms had been built within a larger room. There was a narrow corridor to walk around the outside of support studs and insulation containing heat lamps and plants.
Two parts of the basement contained the plants and growing equipment. Police found someone had drilled a hole through the foundation to circumvent the electric meter and avoid setting off any red flags that a monthly bill tallying in the thousands might signal to authorities, Konopek said.
He estimated the growing equipment was valued between $50,000 to $100,000.
“It was exclusively a grow house,” Fisher said. “No one was living here regularly, though there is one bedroom they kept clean to stay over,” Fisher said.
Konopek called the improvised wiring and hidden walls a “potential deathtrap” if firefighters had responded to what seemed to be an ordinary residence. It appeared that water for the plants was supplied from the hole for a sump pump, and the basement temperature was about 95 degrees when police entered, police said.
“This is the most sophisticated and largest grow operation I can recall,” Konopek said.