FORT PIERCE — The 59 grow houses discovered in Port St. Lucie since May are linked to a New Jersey business that offered potential growers a "relocation package" to St. Lucie County, federal prosecutors said this afternoon.
In exchange for a free home, the recruits agreed to maintain a grow house for two years.
After that, the home could be sold and the equity split 50-50 between the homeowner and the New Jersey financier. Or the homeowner could continue to operate the grow house, said R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
During the two years, the organization paid the homeowners' expenses and the owner was required to harvest and tend to the plants and start a new crop two to three times a year, Acosta said.
Federal authorities would not disclose the name of the New Jersey business or the city where it is located, saying the investigation is ongoing.
They unsealed federal indictments today charging 35 people with conspiracy and cultivating marijuana.