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March 04, 2007
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Tex. home transformed into a 'grow house'

By Paige Hewitt and Lindsay Wise
The Houston Chronicle 

HOUSTON, Tex. - A day after Houston narcotics agents hauled off nearly $4 million worth of marijuana plants from a Montrose-area house that had been transformed into an sophisticated "grow house," two men have been charged in the case.

Charged with felony possession are Tan Nguyen, 30, and Thien Nguyen, 35.

Tan Khac Nguyen, of the 11000 block of Hazen, is being held in Harris County jail without bail because he has a prior record, said Houston narcotics officer Sgt. John Yencha.

Thien Quang Nguyen, of the 9500 block of Ravensworth, is jailed in lieu of $296,000 bond.

Neither is cooperating "at all," Yencha said.

He said authorities are investigating whether the operation involves other people and other locations, perhaps in other states.

Yencha said Hyde Park subdivision residents had complained about a distinctive smell coming from the small house and of observing some unusual occurrences, so narcotics agents had put it under surveillance about a month ago.

Police arrested the two men Friday night after they left the house, located in the 1200 block of West Drew. In their car, officers found various items used for cultivating marijuana -- timers, air pumps, lighting systems and a book on how to grow the plant.

After obtaining a search warrant, police entered the house and discovered what Yencha described as a "very sophisticated" operation that appeared to be the work of an "organized group."

An estimated 1,000 marijuana plants were inside the 1,400-square-foot home, growing in plastic trays. The crop of 2- to 3-foot plants probably would have been the group's first, Yencha said.

Every room in the house was used for cultivation, with high-tech soil-free hydroponic equipment and special lights to simulate sunlight; the watering system had an electrical timer.

He said the home's previous owner said he sold it in October, but Harris County records show no record of a sale. When the new owners moved in, neighbors noticed they had rewired the house, but never moved in.

Yencha said men went to the house every five to seven days and worked inside.

Yencha said that on Saturday, Centerpoint confirmed that the electrical service had been wired so they were "stealing" the service.

Copyright 2007 The Houston Chronicle

Full story: Tex. home transformed into a 'grow house'






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