Though its nickname is the “Sunshine State,” Florida leads the nation in indoor marijuana cultivation operations busts, as local law enforcement raided 818 Floridian “grow houses” in 2010, according to DEA statistics. The much larger state of California was next with 791, but then California has more territory and more ideal outdoor growing conditions
Not surprisingly, the majority of the indoor pot busts are in South Florida, the hub of the state’s drug trade, according to the Los Angeles Times. Already in 2011 Southern Florida cops have reported seizing and burning over 1,000 plants in undercover operations as part of an awkwardly named “program” known as the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. (Their propaganda can be found here: http://www.sflhidta.org/).
On the one hand Florida police report that indoor pot growers are becoming more sophisticated using closed-circuit cameras to monitor grow houses while offsite and stealing electricity from adjacent utility lines to avoid high electric bills. Yet grow houses with shoddy wiring and/or improper lighting lead to fires and even explosions – and this is sometimes the means by which the police discover indoor pot gardens – not through expert detective work. A February 2011 grow house explosion in Broward County had neighbors comparing the vibrations and noise to a plane crash.
To avoid proximity to such neighbors, some growers have relocated operations to rural Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. The locale’s oppressively hot climate actually aids large-scale grow-houses utilizing their own electricity – because it’s typical for such properties to run air-conditioning year-round in South Florida, so there is no police suspicion of excessive electric bills. Florida grow houses can sometimes also come with high property values, as indoor pot farms have been broken up in ritzy neighborhoods in Boca Raton.
Tempering these figures somewhat is that not all law enforcement agencies across the country report their individual pot grow house busts to the DEA. To the extent these statistics can be relied upon, one encouraging finding is that overall indoor pot garden raids by law enforcement across America declined in 2010.