UPDATED 12/16/10 – 6:00 p.m. BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (CBS) – Four members of a Tinley Park family have been charged with felony drug charges after Cook County Sheriff’s police broke up a million-dollar “designer” marijuana ring they were running out of their house.
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All four were charged with various counts of drug possession. John and Christopher Gecan and Osmolski were also charged with marijuana production.
They appeared at the Bridgeview Courthouse Thursday morning for a bond hearing. Bond was set at $50,000 for John and Christopher Gecan and Osmolski. Bond was set at $25,000 for Darlene Gecan.
CBS 2′s Susanna Song reports that nothing looked out of the ordinary from the outside of the home, where Christmas decorations adorned the large house. But inside, steps down to the basement led to a lucrative marijuana operation.
“This was industrial level, just with the amount of effort and work that went into constructing the rooms, the drying rooms, the grow rooms. They definitely had some knowledge on how to put this together,” Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief of Special Investigations Kevin Ruel said.
Detectives began investigating the family earlier this month after seizing a package containing cannabis buds, addressed to the Gecan’s home.
Police then set up a sting operation at the Tinley Park house and, on Tuesday, arrested John and Christopher Gecan after they received a shipment of cannabis.
During the arrest, officers smelled a strong odor of marijuana at the house and saw drug paraphernalia inside, including pipes and a cannabis grinder in plain view in the garage.
Police searched the house and found dozens of cannabis plants and a sophisticated growing and cultivation operation. Officers removed 97 cannabis plants, an additional 2,960 grams of cannabis, more than $7,500 in cash and a small amount of cocaine.
In total, the seized drugs had a street value of more than $1 million, police said.
“A large section of the home’s basement accommodated the grow operation, and blended into the rest of the home,” sheriff’s police said in a statement. “A dummy wall concealed several rooms designated for the different stages of cannabis cultivation, all retrofitted with insulation, automatic temperature control, dehumidifiers and elaborate ventilation system with air filtration. As a result of the Gecan’s careful cultivation, some of their cannabis plants were six feet tall.”
Ruel said he could not comment on how far-reaching the operation was, as police were still investigating the drug ring’s distribution operations.
“But based on a wholesale grow house like this, it’s more or less a higher level. This wasn’t street level dealing where they would sell it nickel-, dime-bag, that sort of thing,” Ruel said. “They were selling it for $40 for a quarter ounce. … For what they were referring to as the ‘primo,’ which is the street slang for very high quality cannabis, they were selling it for a little over $5,000 a pound.”
The grow operation included lamps, drying racks, fertilizer and ventilation ducts built in and around the walls. The ducts stretched three stories from the basement to the attic and out the chimney to filter out the odor of the marijuana and bring in fresh air.
“They would bring air in from the outside, again, through the same system down to the room. So, it was continuously moving the air through the room,” Ruel said.
Authorities said that, while this type of home operation is growing, there was no indication there are more drugs on the streets in Cook County as a result.
“I don’t think this would be an indication that there’s actually more cannabis being produced in our region,” Ruel said.