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2,000 Marijuana Plants Found In Bust


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More than two dozen people are in jail after a huge drug bust. Agents found more than 2,000 marijuana plants growing at nearly a dozen locations in six Metro counties.

The drugs are worth more than $12 million.

Authorities with the Fayette County Sheriff's Department said the man behind the multimillion dollar operation is Markedes Martinez. Police said on the surface, he appears to be a legitimate businessman, but he is now charged with running an illegal underground business.

Photographs taken by drug agents show an elaborate drug growing operation.

More than 2,000 marijuana plants were being grown using artificial lights, fertilizer and a sophisticated irrigation system.

The indoor farm was growing in the basement of a $300,000 home in rural Henry County. Neighbors had little evidence anything was going on there at all.

"I heard them over there once or twice in their cars, but there was never really anybody over there," said neighbor Sherry St. Germain. "So when the police said they didn't live in there, we found out there was just a cot in there, with drugs all in the basement."

Police said it was a well-organized business. They said Martinez was the CEO.

Martinez is a Cuban national who has been living in Fayette County for the past three or four years. His wife is a licensed real estate agent. Investigators said she was part of the scheme.

"She bought these houses legally," said Lt. Dewayne Prosser of the Fayette County Police Department. "And they were strictly set up for growing operations."

The couple is accused of recruiting other Cuban nationals to live in the homes and care for their illegal bounty.

Investigators said those involved devised a way to tap directly into a nearby power source to help with the pot growing operation.

"It's not showing on the power meters from the residences," said Prosser. "They were basically diverting power and stealing it."

Authorities said there may be even more plants growing in basements they haven't yet found.

They said the original tip that prompted the investigation came from federal DEA agents in Miami. Of those arrested so far, 25 of the 26 were Cuban nationals, and authorities are checking to see if they were in the United States legally.

Source: WXIA-TV Atlanta
Author: Jerry Carnes
Editor: Michael King
Copyright: 2007 WXIA-TV Atlanta
Website: Atlanta's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Atlanta, Georgia | 11alive.com
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