FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) – Police need the public’s help finding who was behind an elaborate marijuana grow house.
The police chief calls it the largest “grow operation” he’s seen in his 17 years in Franklin. It was built in a garage-type building at the intersection of Hurricane Road and Eastview Drive.
Investigators believe the suspects have been running it since October 2012. Police discovered the plants during a traffic stop on February 22.
24-Hour News 8 talked to workers at an auto body shop next door and a farmer on the hill just above it, and they along with police assumed the building was abandoned.
Along a busy intersection near industrial parks in Franklin, it’s safe to say most drivers wouldn’t suspect the rundown building on the corner to serve much purpose.
“You’d think maybe storage, some scrap metal or some storage of some sort,” said Mayor Joe McGuinness.
But behind the boarded up doors and garbage bag covered windows was much more that meets the eye.
“It’s not a large building at all. It’s not as if they were being able to manufacture anything, outside of marijuana in there,” he said.
After pulling a driver over next to the building, police say the officer noticed a suspicious odor flowing from a vent.
Inside was a marijuana grow operation with more than 350 plants, an extensive ventilation and irrigation system, and heat lamps worth $2,000 each. Police estimate the drugs to be worth about $116,000, not including the already harvested plants.
“I got the call about 10:30 a.m. and I said ‘where are you at again?’ It shocked me because we just drive by that building on a continuous basis,” said Timothy O’Sullivan, Franklin Police Chief.
And so do hundreds of semi-trucks and cars, as well as farmers who work this neighboring grain bin.
The mayor felt that combination helped the illegal operation stay hidden while out in the open.
“There’s a lot of traffic in and out of there. There are semis hauling grain and farm equipment, and so having an odor like that may have been easy to blend in with the agriculture that surrounds it,” McGuinness said.
Police said evidence left at the scene should help them track down those behind it, but they’re leaning on the public for more help.
“This grow operation was real intricate so we know it’s more than one person,” Chief O’Sullivan said. “So if anyone has any information on person’s involved, we’d love for them to give us a call at the Franklin Police Department.”
Chief O’Sullivan said detectives found receipts in the building that show the suspects bought their irrigation tools from hardware stores in and just outside Franklin.
They’re also looking back at surveillance video from outside neighboring businesses to see what type of activity has been happening there.
Anyone with information that can help police can call Johnson County Dispatch at 317-736-5111, or the Franklin P.D. narcotics tip line at 317-346-1107.