Thursday, October 4, 2012

The newest trend – marijuana crops being “hidden” right out in the open

Signs like these exist all throughout the area surrounding Lake Calumet, which likely added to the 'cover' for the marijuana fields discovered this week. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

Perhaps my sense of smell is deteriorating as I age.

For whenever I drove along the Bishop Ford Freeway in recent months and sensed an “off” aroma, I presumed it was from the nearby trash landfills.

THEY MAY BE capped and covered and the stench isn’t anywhere near as bad as it was when I was a child back in the 1970s, but there’s still a bit of a funk in the air in the land between Pullman and the East Side neighborhoods.

But the “big” story Wednesday morning was the fact that the Chicago Police Department have discovered a big, huge field of marijuana plants – the size of two football fields – in the area around 106th Street and Stony Island Avenue.

That’s near the Harborside International Golf Center (the attempt to turn polluted landfill into luxury golf courses) and has the traffic of the Bishop Ford (which a part of me still thinks of as the Calumet Expressway) whizzing by.

Which sounds like a pretty public place for somebody to be doing something that can warrant criminal charges. Yet all those people seem to have served as the perfect cover for the pot fields.

THE MOTORISTS DRIVE by, doing their best to avoid paying attention to the surroundings. People using the golf course do their best to pretend that the surroundings (which include Lake Calumet and its shipping) don’t really exist.

Most people passing through the Southeast Side notice nothing more than landfills such as this one by the Land & Lakes Co. near the Chicago-Dolton border. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

And because much of this former industrial area is heavily polluted, much of the area is fenced off with signs telling people that wandering around has the potential to be regarded as a criminal offense.

So it’s not an area that people pay close attention to. Which motivated the people who want to earn their living by satisfying the public’s “desire” for marijuana to use the land for their growing fields.

Both the Chicago Sun-Times and WGN-TV quoted Chicago police as saying some of the plants on the huge fields were the size of “Christmas trees.” It almost sounds like a fantasy sequence from a “Cheech and Chong” film!

THE POLICE ADMITTED on Wednesday that they didn’t truly appreciate the size of the operation until they got a helicopter in the air and saw the fields from the sky.

Not that anybody has been arrested. When police arrived at the pot fields to confiscate the crop, nobody was around. Police are asking us to keep their eyes open for anybody who comes back to the area trying to salvage something from this operation.

Then again, we’re the same people who had a huge pot field growing in our midst and didn’t have a clue.

So the individuals may have to “write off” this particular operation, and turn their attention to what I’m sure is another open field of marijuana growing somewhere in an equally-public place.

THE ODD THING is that this is not the first time I have heard of such pot plants growing in the open.

About a month ago, police in suburban Lynwood (just a bit further south where the Bishop Ford turns into Illinois Route 394) found a smaller-scale operation – but one that was equally huge in the public eye.

A two-acre field of marijuana plants in various stages of growth – with a nearby house with rooms set up for various stages of the processing, packaging and marketing (so to speak) of marijuana. Two tons of the crop were confiscated.

To the best of my knowledge, no arrests were ever made in that case. And it took the Cook County sheriff’s police helicopter task force to let the Lynwood police comprehend the scale of that site.

ARE WE GOING to start finding more of these fields out in the open, counting on peoples’ willingness to not look too closely as their cover. And how do police destroy a crop that large – without creating the potential for jokes about a city-wide pot party sponsored by “da Law!”

It reminds me of a viewpoint I once heard expressed about the best way to hide a piece of information – create an obscure website on the Internet and post every graphic detail.

Then count on the fact that there is so much clutter on the Internet that your site likely will get lost in the shuffle and never be looked at.


No comments: