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OPERATION "GROWING PAINS" blackout will like this one


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Drug Sweep Uncovers 36 Grow Houses, Nets 39 Arrests

POSTED: 7:37 am EDT October 30, 2008

UPDATED: 2:21 pm EDT October 30, 2008

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MIAMI -- Thirty-nine people were arrested in southwest Miami-Dade County during an operation that targeted marijuana grow houses on Wednesday.

During operation "Growing Pains," Miami-Dade Police and Drug Enforcement Agency officials raided 36 grow houses and confiscated more than 1,500 plants. The 2,200 pounds of marijuana have an estimated street value of $8.9 million.

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Agents also confiscated eight firearms and $23,000.

The newest trend is for criminals to use foreclosed homes or properties purchased through mortgage fraud for grow operations. Out of the 36 homes involved in the raid, six were obtained through mortgage fraud.

Police said that often, criminals do not want to purchase the homes because it is easier to rent. There is no major paperwork, so police said it is easier for a criminal to hide his or her true identity.

"We are utilizing all the resources we have to shut them down," said Captain Jay Fernandez of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

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