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Cops Seize $4M In Marijuana From Grow House Network

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Veteran law enforcement officers said it's a drug manufacturing operation unlike any they'd ever seen.

CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli takes an exclusive look inside the hidden world of a sophisticated drug grow house, following a raid by the Chicago Police Department's Central Anti-Violence Task Force.

"It's almost like a little Christmas tree," said Police Sgt. Sean Martin of a high-grade marijuana plant found inside the grow house, one of three such houses all linked to the same drug operation.

"This right here is probably worth about $10,000," he said of pot that had been hung out to dry.

It was all being grown in Chicago buildings that had been converted into tropical grow houses.

Veteran law enforcement officers said it was the most sophisticated indoor grow operation they had ever seen.

In fact, just finding the grow house was difficult, because it was hidden behind a fake wall. Once inside, investigators found a nursery for young plants, a grid area for medium sized plants, and another area filled with mature budding plants.

The entire operation was automated. Lights went on electronically, as did the sprinkler -- which hydrated the plants with fertilized water. Fans generated breezes, and industrial filters were used to hide the smell.

Police estimated the equipment alone was likely worth $50,000.

CBS 2 was there Monday as officers brought out some of the more than 630 marijuana plants that were seized from an apartment building on Warren Boulevard near Kedzie Avenue.

In addition to the plants, police found a handgun and plenty of pot bagged and ready for sale.

Three buildings were involved in the raid. In one building alone, police seized 499 plants, with a street value of more than $4 million.

So far four people have been arrested in connection with the case, but Martin said he expects to make more arrests.

The commander of the narcotics unit said this investigation will make Chicago streets safer.

"The sale of cannabis fuels the street gangs and by disrupting their revenue stream we feel we can have an impact on street violence," said Cmdr. James O'Grady.

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