SLIDESHOW: Police bust sophisticated marijuana growing operation - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

SLIDESHOW: Police bust sophisticated marijuana growing operation

By Jamel Major and Lori Brown

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis police shut down an indoor marijuana growing operation during a drug bust Tuesday near the University of Memphis.

Acting on a tip, Memphis police served a search warrant Tuesday at a home in the 3400 block of Douglas Avenue. Inside, investigators said, they found a sophisticated marijuana growing operation.

According to investigators, in one of the hallways of the house, officers located a carpeted tunnel which led underneath the residence. The tunnel, which was nearly 50 feet long, led to a work space which contained heaters, fertilizers, fans, lights and marijuana plants.

The tunnel also led to the rear exterior of the residence, where two additional passageways were found.

Neighbors were shocked such an elaborate drug operation existed in their community.

"They came out with plants taller than me - a ton of them, one after another," said neighbor Erin Feil. "What's funny is I've always smelled something. It smells kinda funky."

John Mensi lives across the street from the busted marijuana grow. He says he never would have suspected his neighbor was up to anything illegal. Mensi says the home was abandoned for about 5 years, then a couple moved in for 6 months, moved out, and the current resident moved in and started making some repairs.

"Guys on the roof I thought putting new air conditioners in," Mensi said.

Little did Mensi know that those air conditioners were part of a sophisticated ventilation system. Mensi still doesn't know how his elderly neighbor managed to get a tunnel built under the home.

"He couldn't have done it by himself," Mensi said. "There's no way. With him being probably seventy years old, he was just barely raking."

Mensi said his neighbor did have a lot of visitors.

"There would be people that would come and just kind of knock on the door and stand around for a while, and I always thought, he must just be the friendliest guy in the neighborhood," Mensi said.

The tunnel also had two passageways that led out the back of the house.

The estimated street value of the marijuana was over $150 thousand dollars. Investigators called arrests in the case "imminent."

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly