WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WREX) - A Machesney Park man is in jail after investigators say they found more than half a dozen homes filled with marijuana plants. Police seized 800 plants from homes in both Rockford and Machesney Park.
If you think only harder drugs like cocaine and heroin bring in the big money, a special agent with the drug enforcement administration says think again. Winnebago County Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro say Ryan Link,31 used seven homes to run a pot business. "The homes were set up with sophisticated irrigation systems, heated lighting systems. Some of the lighting systems were on automatic tracks where the lights would automatically cover the length of the basement back and forth automatically. "
Iasparro adds that no one lived in any of the houses except for one. Police say Link set up shop in empty Rockford homes on Rome Avenue, Allington Avenue, 17th Street, Crosby Street and Quincy Street. There were two more houses in Machesney Park on Ventura Boulevard and Wimbledon Road where Link lived. One of his neighbors, Carol Hayes never suspected this, but still she isn't shocked. "I'm not surprised that it is going on because I don't think there are any places you can live anymore which are crime-free."
Iasparro says Link's operation made a lot of money. Each pound of pot sells for up to $4,000 on the street. With 800 plants, Iasparro says profits could have reached into the millions. "When you add up the number of plants that were recovered, and we estimate that each you get approximately one pound of marijuana from a plant through its growing cycle, so if you add that up the profits are huge."
Link turned himself in after police put out a warrant. He's in jail on a $1 million bond.
The houses he's accused of growing pot in have all been closed, some condemned because of the nature of the operation.
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