How To Spot Illegal Grow Houses

As federal drug agents sort out what appear to have been sophisticated pot-growing operations across the Houston area, they are also letting residents know how to spot similar grow houses, even in upscale neighborhoods.

The raids were conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Public Safety and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. About 60 rental homes were located in unassuming neighborhoods, and the majority of renters kept to themselves, to avoid any suspicion.

“Most indoor grow operations, the operators will try and blend in with the local community in which they’re trying to have their indoor growth. And that way, they don’t arouse suspicion and no one thinks anything of it.”

That’s Anthony Scott, DEA assistant special agent in charge of the Houston division. He says this operation involved a hydroponic system to make the product grow faster and stronger.

“To grow illegal weed, it does take (an) elaborate setup in which they try to tap into the legitimate power sources to the homes, to try and avoid being caught, as far as the amount of power that it takes to actually run an illegal grow operation. You know, you can tell you have some that are grown, full grown plants, some that are baby plants. The various plants are at different stages when we go inside.”

When it was over, the raids netted some 2 dozen arrests of people believed to belong to what authorities called a Vietnamese organized crime ring, and with a haul estimated at over $6 million dollars.

Special Agent Scott says while this operation was successfully put out of business, observant residents can help authorities.

“Some of the things that they can do, is if they notice strange activity going on in the neighbor’s homes, such as seeing the windows boarded up, seeing that they’re all darkened out. If they see some sort of illegal tapping into the power lines. If they see someone who may not appear to be a power person thats should be authorized to tap into those lines, or to do work on those lines, that can be something.”

Scott adds if anyone suspects illegal activity going on in the neighborhood to call police.