Within three days of his 2000 prison release for growing marijuana, federal authorities say Cecil Hume Jr. started a 1,000-square-foot, pot-growing operation hidden beneath a barn on a Kentucky farm, the Louisville Courier-Journal says. The only entrance was an elevator disguised as a shower stall. Hume, 57, and two others face multiple charges relating to what federal officials describe as a sophisticated, hugely profitable marijuana business that supplied a potent product to select clients in Louisville and Indianapolis. A search warrant affidavit alleges the operation took in an estimated $5 million in three years, until authorities, tipped by a confidential informant, raided the farm on Nov. 9. They confiscated nearly 800 marijuana plants, with an estimated street value of $3 million.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for years has ranked Kentucky among the nation’s top five states in marijuana production. The DEA’s Tony King says the Kentucky farm “takes the prize for sophistication.” He said the electric-powered elevator and an underground electrical wiring system showed a high level of technical skill, and appeared to meet safety codes. Hume allegedly dug out an area under the barn with four rooms — three for growing with high-intensity lighting, and one for cloning plants. The affidavit alleges that marijuana was dried and packaged for sale on the site. A DEA agent said quantities of high THC marijuana were distributed to “select upper-class clients in the Louisville Metro area.”