Greg Baskin saw an opportunity in the 300 marijuana plants spread throughout his Lake Worth home, deputies say: it was a way to pay the mortgage.
After detectives discovered his massive grow operation, Baskin, 56, landed in jail for marijuana trafficking and manufacturing.
It began with an Crime Stoppers tip on Dec. 12, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office report.
The tipster said Baskin had been growing marijuana in his house, in the 1600 block of South Palmway, for the past 14 years. Specifically, the tip alleged there were 20, 6-foot-tall marijuana plants growing in the garage.
Later that day, deputies conducted surveillance at the front of the house, where investigators allegedly smelled the distinct odor of raw marijuana.
Detectives then heard what sounded like an air conditioner blaring behind Baskin's privacy fence. But deputies noted it was 66 degrees that day: a bit too cool for air conditioning.
Cannabis manufacturing labs typically use artificial lighting to mimic the light of the sun, deputies say. The lighting systems – often left on for 12 to 18 hours a day – give off a lot of heat, which must be counteracted by air conditioning, regardless of outside temperature.
Detectives got a search warrant Dec. 18 and moved in just after 8 p.m., when Baskin pulled his Ford Expedition into the driveway.
Investigators confronted him, and Baskin piped up:
"[Baskin] made the spontaneous statement that he was growing pot to save his house from foreclosure," the report says.
Inside the house, detectives noted their discoveries.
One bedroom, the report says, had been modified into a "fully operational indoor cannabis manufacturing laboratory," where 60, 12-inch marijuana plants grew in pots, watered by a drip irrigation system.
In the corner of the room, 120 smaller marijuana plants had sprouted.
The other bedroom held 14, 5-foot marijuana plants.
In the garage, Baskin allegedly covered the walls with "silver insulation sheathing" to reflect light toward the 116, 2-to-5-foot marijuana plants growing at the center of the room.
"The total weight of the cannabis plants," the report says, "was over 25 pounds."
Baskin remained in the Palm Beach County Jail Friday in lieu of $30,000 bond.
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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