FBCSO: Pot-growing operation busted near Richmond

Investigators say they've busted a marijuana-growing operation in Fort Bend County.
April 3, 2012 3:26:08 PM PDT
Families were shocked to find out what was going on behind closed doors in their own neighborhood. A sophisticated pot growing operation has been put out of business.

The home was raided Friday in the Canyon Gate at the Brazos subdivision in the Richmond area. Homeowners are just stunned. You have to go through a gate and past a guard to get in the neighborhood. Those we talked to had no idea what was happening behind their neighbor's doors.

Investigators found 217 marijuana plants growing inside a two-story home inside Canyon Gate at the Brazos. It was more than 80 pounds of pot with a street value of more than $300,000.

An undercover Fort Bend narcotics detective said, "It's hard to find these places, even if you're living right beside it, it would be hard to spot."

The detective tells us he started surveillance on the home after an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip. Electricity usage was 10 times higher than the neighbors. Once inside with a search warrant, detectives found a contraption installed before the meter, that allowed them to steal even more electricity.

Authorities found a sophisticated "grow house" -- complete with thousands of dollars worth of special lights, ballasts, cooling systems, water pumps and chemicals. Plastic is placed over every window to keep nosy neighbors out and trick the plants into thinking this is optimum growing season. Investigators say the suspects had been at work here since at least last July.

"I had no clue about that," said neighbor Milo Cardenas. "It's right around the corner from my house."

Police arrested Clay Stephen Wilson, 32; Sammy David Ingle, 36; Andrew Williams Gomez, 22; and James Harry Gates, 28. They were all charged with possession of marijuana, which is a second degree felony. Each has bonded out of jail.

Detectives say Wilson rented the home from an unsuspecting property owner, who never knew what was going on in the home or how much damage was being done to it.


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