HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County narcotics officers recovered several hundred pounds of marijuana with a street value of more than $3 million. The pot was being cultivated inside two grow houses in an upper middle class subdivision.
Coventry Estates is located off Highway 15 in northeast Harrison County. Unsuspecting neighbors in that subdivision had no idea they were living near a major marijuana manufacturing operation.
Marijuana has a distinct, pungent odor. And it was that smell that led law enforcement to the discovery. A Harrison County patrolman was driving through the neighborhood, smelled the drug and investigated.
Following up on the smell, officers found sophisticated grow rooms and nearly 400 marijuana plants.
"I've seen indoor grows. I've never seen one this elaborate," said Capt. Troy Peterson, with the Harrison County Sheriff's department.
He led the narcotics investigation. Peterson's team not only recovered the hundreds of plants, but also at least 100 pounds, ready for the street.
"It's organizations that understand that a nice neighborhood, the police aren't going to come in here looking for that kind of stuff," he explained, "This is a perfect cover for an organization this size. When you go in and seal your windows shut with spray foam, you're really trying to be serious about a grow."
"Unbelievable," said Michael Hubbard, who was shocked to see officers removing plants and growing equipment from the house directly beside his. He had no idea what was happening next door.
"I never would have imagined that you could have that many, that much plants in a house without it being detected," he said.
It isn't just ordinary weed, it's hydroponic marijuana. It takes money and time and much care to grow, but commands a premium price: up to $1200 an ounce.
"Really has to be taken care of. It's a long process for them to create this type of marijuana. And the THC level is often three to four times higher than your regular marijuana," said DEA agent Daniel Comeaux.
Narcotics investigators call this a significant case.
"I think it's going to go into other states. I don't want to divulge everything we're working on, but I think we're going to have a lot of arrests in this case," said Peterson.
Neighbors are thankful that smell, gave it away.
"But I am glad and relieved that they were able to detect this. And hopefully all that activity is over with," said Michael Hubbard.
Investigators have not yet made any arrests in this case. But they're looking for Tin Quac Tran, 25. Anyone who knows his whereabouts should contact the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.