20070607 - Wet-Dry to the rescue!
Tuesday night C. and I planned to stay home, cook, and watch "All The President's Men" (a movie about Watergate), on DVD. Between cooking and watching the movie, I took the trash out, passing some 'handymen' looking guys in the hall, and some puddles of water coming from the two apartments next to ours. (We're in X, this was X-2 and X-4.) The guys look at me, but don't say anything, and hey, if this was something I needed to know about, they'd let me know, right?
On my way back in to the building I hear the older guy say "Well I guess I'm going to have to call [the management company]."
We start the movie. About 30 minutes into it, there's a knock on the door. I don't think to look in the peephole, it's a friendly building. I throw open the door and am greeted by 3 burley plainclothes cops with badge/leather medallions around their necks.
They ask if we have water coming in? No, of course not we'd have noticed something like that. They point to the wall shared with X-2 and yes, yes we do. There are some small puddles of water coming in the base of the wall. They come in and look around. Almost nothing's on the raw concrete floor over there, so we tear up some Flor tiles and move a little bit of stuff. One cop remains a little bit longer than the others, so I ask him "What's the problem?" and can see he's not going to answer as I'm asking so I add after a half beat "...if you can talk about it."
"Use your imagination." (Thank you officer Friendly!)
So apartment X-4 has some 3 guys living there. We've occasionally seen them around, their front door has a second interior door and tiny entry foyer. They took in a lot of lumber and plywood when moving in. (It took us months before we were ready to build up our platformed area.) They've apparently completely blocked their windows out. Our neighbor in X+2 said he'd offered to help them with their garbage and even said "boy you guys sure do make a lot of trash" as they hauled a lot of black garbage bags out. They don't actually live there, they just stop by to water the plants. And apparently someone left the hose on. It's just a grow room, they've built an entire multi-floor cottage inside for their produce, stacked up and segregated so they can have a constant harvest. They had their own diesel generator, 12-volt electrical system, ventilation system, the foyer was actually a well sealed airlock. Most of the building had no clue, we'd just occasionally catch a whiff when the wind was blowing just right.
We spent much of the evening standing in the hall, giving beer to our neighbors, watching 15+ firemen squeegee water down the hall and out the door as various cops took pictures in the front door.
So here's what happened:
Someone left the hose on, or some elaborate hydroponics system broke, and the grow room (X-4) started to fill. It eventually had about a foot of standing water. Not so hard to do when you've made the place pretty well air-tight. The water started running into the neighboring apartments, X-2 and probably the space at X-6. The woman who live/works in X-2 runs a hemp-clothing/design website. She called [the management company] when she came home to about 2 inches of standing water in her place. The maintennace/plumber/emergency handyman and his sidekick arrived, got permission from [the management company] to enter the X-4 premises when there was no answer. Once they got in, he called [the management company] again to explain the state of affairs. They told him to get his digital camera from his car, go in and take 20 pictures, and only THEN call the cops.
The cops arrive and do whatever they do at the place, call 2 Hook-n-Ladder firecrews to come see, warn us about the water, and then generally stand around. One of the neighbors started to describe one of the guys who "live" there and the type of car he drives, etc. but the cops (plainclothes and undercover) don't really seem to care. HempClothes woman is given a quick, rubber-boots provided tour of the place by the cops. Ironically(?) she doesn't seem to really know anything about hemp growing or cultivation. We suck up 30 gallons of water with the aforementioned wet-dry vac. Neighbors mill around in the hallway. C. offers the shaken HempClothes woman a beer. Neighbors mill around in the hallway with beer. Fireman with back-pack vacuum walks around and sucks up water. Firemen squeegee water down the hallway. I apparently firemen are used to having too much water around and have a lot of clever tools for dealing with it. Cops take pictures at the doorway, eventually all the water's more or less cleaned up and everyone goes home.
Pretty big night, eh?
The next day the boys of 10 have been back. They're cleaning up, or grabbing whatever stuff of value is left in the place, but leaving it mostly trashed, with a building built inside it, the original loft stairs and railing cut apart in a couple places. And they're not in any apparent trouble or distress. Sheepish, at most.
For 3 days a barrel-sized garbage can sits in the hall, half full of wet marijuana leaves. Apparently even the youngest child today knows you don't smoke the leaves. "Your family so poor they smoke the leaves!" is probably a common 3rd grade school yard taunt. The wet leaves begin to decompose, so the hallway fills with the smell of rotting garbage and pot.
The plants aren't taken out and destroyed by an elite corps of skilled law enforcement officers, they're cleared by whoever got stuck with the cleanup duty. These controlled substance plants have been as controlled as Christmas gifts. Friends and co-workers suggest that were one to have received such a Christian offering, one could just grow it in the window without any fuss or worry. (The gifts also die when over-watered.)
The first way I understand this is that the cops have the evidence they need, then they just sort of let anyone clean up afterwards.
My current understanding: Maybe this really was a quasi-legit operation on the state level; as if the apartment was full of expensive china dolls. The cops were just there to investigate, discovered there was nothing illegal on their jurisdiction level, so they were just there to protect the premises and the valuable collection of dolls.
This is the paradox of marijuana in this country today. If the Feds don't know about it, sometimes it's OK. A guy growing medical marijuana is tried and sentenced without the jury being able to be informed what sort of operation he was involved in; three boys trash an apartment and flood the place, bringing all sorts of cops and firemen to the rescue, they lose their deposit.
And fricken [management company] pops the rent up $150 a month on us for the privilege.