Philadelphia narcotics officers raided a brightly trimmed rowhouse yesterday looking for a suspect in a marijuana ring. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that what they found surprised them: hundreds of shoulder-high pot plants growing under high-powered lights. The raid was one of five that netted 700 marijuana plants, van-loads of growing equipment, and 130 pounds of packaged marijuana.
Law enforcement officials nationwide are concerned that marijuana growers are bringing their plants indoors and out of sight of the law. Tighter security at U.S. borders since Sept. 11, 2001, and an increased assault on outdoor marijuana plants have combined to push more production indoors. The Drug Enforcement Administration says the number of pot plants seized nationwide has risen each year since 2001, from 3.3 million in 2001 to 3.6 million in 2003.
The increased popularity of indoor, or hydroponic, gardening has caught on with marijuana growers. In the Victorian house raided yesterday in Philadelphia, police found 440 marijuana plants flourishing in beds of rich nutrients. “We didn’t expect to find a grow at this location,” Lt. Kevin Bethel said.