Estates grow house used in drug trade for 'quite some time,' officials say

Some of the 431 marijuana plants Collier County sheriff's Vice Narcotics detectives recovered after executing a search warrant at an illegal grow operation at 1825 Washburn Ave. in Golden Gate Estates on Tuesday.

Some of the 431 marijuana plants Collier County sheriff's Vice Narcotics detectives recovered after executing a search warrant at an illegal grow operation at 1825 Washburn Ave. in Golden Gate Estates on Tuesday.

Video from NBC-2

— It took nearly four hours Tuesday for Collier County deputies to dismantle a marijuana grow house worth an estimated $1.3 million, according to officials.

Acting on a search warrant, detectives, SWAT members and other Sheriff's Office deputies entered a home at 1825 Washburn Ave. in Golden Gate Estates and found two indoor grow rooms and two stables out back with 431 marijuana plants.

No one was home at the time of the search, and no one has been arrested.

Lt. Harold Minch, of the Sheriff's Office's Vice and Narcotics Bureau, said the house had been used in the drug trade for "quite some time," adding that detectives had been watching the house for months.

The first floor of the house appeared to be a garage and the second story was furnished "haphazardly," as if not create suspicion, Minch said. There was a never-used swing set in the front yard, and detectives found horses, chickens, two dogs and a cat roaming the property, he said.

The house was surrounded by heavy brush and was set about 1,000 feet from neighbors and about 250 feet from the road, he said.

"Unless you caught the odor somehow, it was fairly well disguised," Minch said.

Tuesday's find could also tip detectives off on other area grow houses, since the one on Washburn Avenue is thought to be part of a larger organization, Minch said. Local growers often sell their product in the Northeast, where it fetches a higher price, he said.

Anyone who sees a suspected grow house operation is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 239-775-TIPS, or make an anonymous report at www.colliersheriff.org by clicking "How Do I?" and "Report a grow house or abandoned home."

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