MCSO bust criminals claiming to be legit medical marijuana business

Posted at 5:54 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-28 21:18:49-04

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday that it busted criminals claiming to be a legit medical marijuana business. 

Sheriff’s deputies started busting down doors at two different warehouses south of Sky Harbor around dawn.  They said the grow operation was large enough it needed to be housed in two warehouses and was likely worth $14 million per year.  It was capable of producing 1,000 pounds of pot every 90 days.

“Plus you have hashish oil being made here,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Hash oil is essentially pot that’s been cooked down to pure concentrate.  Making it is incredibly dangerous and potentially explosive.

A lab that Maricopa County deputies said was not nearly as big exploded in the Bronx earlier this week.  The blast killed a New York City fire department chief and hurt 20 others.

“If that thing blew up you're going to take down some other buildings.  That's how big that is,” said Arpaio.

The sheriff's office spent months investigating the grow operation.  It was a tough case to nail down because they said the growers were pretending to be a legit medical marijuana business.

“Committing fraud, that's what they're doing,” said Arpaio.

According to the sheriff, the growers said they were caring for patients who live more than 25-miles from regular licensed dispensaries.  That would be legal – in theory.  However, the sheriff said patient addresses were all fake and in one case there were 50 people registered at a single home in Apache Junction.