Pot Bust: Marijuana Smoke Odor Wafting From Chimney

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By Kamika Dunlap on March 15, 2010 4:00 PM

His strong sense of smell led New Jersey Officer Thomas Lucasiewicz to detect the largest pot growing ring in the state. The odor of marijuana smoke was wafting from a chimney, yielding to a $10 million pot bust.

According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, the cops sniffed out $10 million worth of marijuana plants. The smell of marijuana came from a chimney where the unusable parts of the pot plants were being burned.

When Officer Lucasiewicz located where the smell was coming from he knocked on the door and found rows of marijuana plants in the basement and bedroom of the one-story home.

Authorities said the home was a pot factory with 64 high-powered lights used to nourish the plants.

In the next days a police probe led to a sophisticated $10 million Vietnamese criminal high-tech cultivation operation. Authorities located five rented homes where they found 3,370 growing plants, 115 pounds of harvested marijuana worth $400,000 as well as $65,000 cash.

Officials said the growers modified several of the homes, cutting 16-inch holes in floors and ceilings to accommodate vents and ductwork.

This pot bust case is similar to the way California police detected plants growing inside a Van Nuys warehouse by an aroma wafting through an open window, as previously discussed in FindLaw's Blotter.

Officers recognized the smell immediately and found more than 200 marijuana plants growing inside a warehouse.

The pot plants were growing hydroponic system. Officials said they were growing in water, without soil, under a light and fan system powered and wiring.

In the New Jersey case, six people have been charged with running marijuana-cultivation facilities. In addition, three remain at large and are believed to have fled the country, officials said.

New Jersey, unlike some states, shows no sign of moving toward decriminalizing marijuana, as it continues to lock up thousands of non-violent drug offenders.