25 indicted in Ga. for $50 million pot-growing operation
By Jeffry Scott
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — A seven-month investigation into a marijuana-growing enterprise rooted in the basements of dozens of upscale suburban Atlanta homes has yielded federal indictments against 25 people and a catchy name for the dope business --- "Hooked on Ponics."
"We estimate it's worth about $50 million," said Jack Killorin, director of the Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficing Area Task Force, which coordinated the investigation.
The case began last February, when Forsyth County deputies chased down a tip from the Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami that a master pot grower was operating in Atlanta.
Botello allegedly arranged real estate deals for homes used in the operation. Merquiades, according to the indictment, oversaw the growing of the marijuana, basing his operation at a Fayetteville garden supply store.
"This is pretty clearly a case of organized crime in suburbia," Killorin said.
Copyright 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Full story: ...