Dozens of homes raided in major drug bust
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- DEA agents spent the day raiding dozens of homes turned into marijuana farms in a major drug bust, all to the shock and amazement of their neighbors.
The raids started early Tuesday morning and lasted all day. The DEA and local law enforcement busted dozens of so-called "grow" houses, all believed to be part of a marijuana growing operation.
The raids were widespread, happening in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties. A house in The Woodlands is just one of about 60 homes federal agents and local police were busy raiding Tuesday. Investigators say the marijuana growing in this house and 40 others across the area is all linked to what they're calling a Vietnamese organized crime ring.
Investigators at various homes pulled out burlap sacks full of what they said was no ordinary pot.
"The marijuana that they are growing is a highly potent, very sophisticated marijuana," explained Houston DEA Special Agent Javier Pena. "It's very, very strong, potent, very dangerous marijuana."
The home in the Creekside subdivision is among more than 60 rental homes across Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend counties drug enforcement agents and local police raided. I asked investigators about the suspected group behind what they're calling a multi-million dollar illegal pot growing operation.
Houston DEA Special Agent Thomas Hinojosa said, "This Vietnamese organization, they do that, they look for homes in a very unassuming neighborhood and they move in. They rent the house, maintain a very low key. Sometimes they befriend the neighbors and they set up shop and try not to make any commotion."
Neighbors near one home told me they never suspected a thing.
"Oh, shocking, very shocking," said neighbor Jessica Romero.
Investigators walked us through some of the other evidence they're finding.
"These are all the lamps that are used to grow the marijuana," said Special Agent Pena.
Drug officers say the suspects were using this equipment to make the marijuana grow faster and stronger.
Pena said, "All this equipment was set up in every room of the house."
Neighbors say they are just glad investigators are tackling these homes.
"I have kids," Romero said. "There are kids on this block, so it's scary."
Evidence filled the driveway during the raid and investigators say the home itself was completely trashed by the operation. Police say they arrested about 24 people. Investigators say the marijuana found in one home alone was worth about $6 million.
local, demond fernandez
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