National market report: Abandoned Vegas homes are turned into pot “grow houses”

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From The Real Deal’s December magazine: Las Vegas houses emptied by foreclosure are being turned into marijuana “grow houses,” the New York Daily News reported, as drug dealers take advantage of affordable real estate for rent. Last year, authorities dismantled 153 indoor grow sites in Nevada and seized more than 13,000 plants, compared with 18 sites and 1,000 plants in 2005, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said. “You can’t have crime without opportunity,” University of Nevada criminologist William Sousa told the Daily News. “All those empty homes present an opportunity for criminal activity.” Growers can cultivate over 200 marijuana plants worth $3,000 each in a large home, the News said. Hydroponic marijuana grown indoors can sell for over four times what Mexican marijuana nets. “With this market, it’s almost a free-for-all right now,” Las Vegas police Lt. Laz Chavez told the Las Vegas Review Journal earlier this year. “These guys aren’t the fun-loving hippies with a small garden in the backyard. These are dangerous criminal groups doing this.” [more]