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Chicago Marijuana Farm Worth $10 Million Found by Police

Update Date: Oct 05, 2012 07:10 AM EDT
Marijunana Farm
Marijuana Farm (Photo : Flickr/ North Cascades National Park)

If you drive through rural Nebraska and stop along the road, you will see miles and miles of corn. The air smells of corn and earth. The vastness of the crop is a testament to man's will to bring forth the bounty of the earth.

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Now, imagine you are standing in a lot located on Chicago's Southside and the crop you see for miles and miles is not corn, but pot, marijuana.

On a plot of land the size of two football fields someone decided to grow pot in the most unlikely of places, and were it not for their proximity to a police hanger, and a lucky flyover by the police, they would have successfully harvested over 1,500 mature plants.

On Wednesday, a day after the discovery of the largest marijuana farm anyone at the police department can remember, officers became farmers for a day as they began to chop down about 1,500 marijuana plants that police said could have earned the growers as much as $10 million.

James O'Grady, the commander of the department's narcotics division, said they've never seen anything like it before, in part because Chicago's harsh winters mean growers have a lot less time to plant, grow and harvest marijuana than their counterparts in less inclement places such as California and Mexico. The bumper crop was likely planted in spring, O'Grady said.

Add to that the urban sprawl: there are few spots in Chicago where such an operation could go unnoticed because of all the buildings, roads and residents. The growers took pains to ensure their crop was largely hidden by a canopy of trees and surrounding vegetation.

"Somebody put a lot of thought into it," O'Grady said. "But they probably didn't anticipate the helicopter."

There have been no arrest and the owners of the property have not been found. Urban farmers typically use secret grow rooms and the plants may be hydroponically grown. It is unusual for marijuana to be grown on open lots in such amounts given the difficulty of keeping such a large operation a secret.

Chicago Police Officer Stan Kuprianczyk, a pilot, said police helicopters flew "over it all the time," to and from their hangar, without spying the grow site. Yet somehow, a number of factors came together to allow Cook County Sheriff's Deputy Edward Graney to spot the plants.

"We had the right altitude, the right angle, the right sunlight, and I happened to be glancing down," said Graney. He said he initially spotted five plants or so through the trees before he asked Kuprianczyk to circle around for a closer look.

"We just happened to be right over a small hole in the trees and we looked down," Kuprianczyk said.

One wonders with the trend to eat organically grown foods, grown locally, why this crop must be destroyed.

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