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Homeowners see damage pot-growing renters caused

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's been nearly 24 hours since drug agents raided dozens of homes across our area as part of a massive marijuana bust. Now those homeowners are getting a better idea of the damage those pot growers caused.

Two dozen people are now charged with drug possession and conspiracy to distribute it following a massive federal raid throughout the Houston area on Tuesday. According to the DEA, the group leased homes in upscale suburban neighborhoods only to turn them into grow houses.

On Tuesday, bags of marijuana plants, several hundred according to the DEA, were removed from the house, along with millions of dollars in product and equipment. But his is the other side of the story.

"This is the master bedroom and the bathroom is just as bad," said Torrance Earle.

He is the property owner who took us on a tour Wednesday and told us the story of who a couple who claimed to be from Canada, convincing and he says they really liked the house.

"They talked about the feng shui, stairs not facing the door, because your money goes out the door," said Earle.

Perfectly maintained outside, its interior was transformed quickly into this. -- A maze of wiring hooked up to bootlegged electricity, ductwork dangling from ceilings to circulate the air for faster plant growth. And on top of carpeting, potting soil and fertilizer everywhere.

Only the entry way was relatively untouched. And on the floor, a shrine put there by the renters supposed to guard the house.

"They had money stacked up here. It was like $19 dollars... I took it," Earle said.

The house can be repaired, but it will take a lot of work to do it. It's the side to the underground drug industry people rarely see -- what it does to property owners like Torrance Earle who for now doesn't want to let any strangers live in his house.

"You would have to be in the situation to understand what it's like," he told us.

Authorities say they arrested 24 people and confiscated nearly 14,000 marijuana plants in the raids on 40 grow houses. Investigators say the marijuana found in one home alone was worth about $6 million.

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