According to the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration, more marijuana grow houses were seized in Florida than in any other state last year.
Nationwide demand for high-potency marijuana has turned Florida into a top producer of hydroponic weed, and hundreds of South Floridians are turning their homes into lucrative grow houses, according to local law enforcement.
The illegal drug nurseries are hidden everywhere from million-dollar homes to run-down apartments, putting unsuspecting neighbors in serious danger, police said. Some grow houses are discovered only after explosions or fires.
“The bad guys are getting smarter, and we’re not finding them all,” said Capt. Joe Mendez, who oversees HIDTA’s marijuana task force in South Florida.
The huge profits made from hydroponic marijuana create a never-ending battle for police, said Mendez, of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. Each pound has a street value of about $4,000 in South Florida, and each plant produces about three pounds a year, according to the task force.
Gov. Rick Scott on Monday unveiled a new plan to attack crooked pain clinics, committing $800,000 to beef up criminal investigations into shady operators and rogue doctors as well as drug manufacturers, wholesalers and street dealers. This comes shortly after reports that Florida has become the largest U.S. producer of drugs like Oxycodone.
The plan calls for launching a “Drug Strike Force” made up of dedicated squads in each of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s seven regions across the state. The teams will incorporate state and local criminal investigators and also regulators from the health department and other state agencies.
Dave Aronberg (special prosecutor with the attorney general’s office) revealed shocking statistics to a gathering at the health professions division of Nova Southeastern University: “Florida peddles 10 times more oxycodone pills than all the other states together.”
These statistics come to light as newly appointed Gov. Rick Scott promises to repeal the state law authorizing a prescription drug monitoring database.
Aronberg also noted that “[seven] Floridians die each day from overdosing on oxycodone.”