ADRIAN, MI (WTOL) - Neighbors say they grew flowers for years. Now a Lenawee County couple could face more than 14 years behind bars for growing something else.
An anonymous tip came into the sheriff's office yesterday about the couple's home in the 12000 block of Rome Road in Manitou Beach. When investigators went there, they say they smelled marijuana so they obtained a search warrant.
They executed that warrant Monday night and all day Tuesday. They say they found seven thousand plants on the property, 1,000 in the couple's greenhouse and more hidden among their pine trees. They say the plants are worth about $7 million.
"These plants were well cultivated. These people knew what they were doing," Inspector Gene Adamczyk with the Michigan State Police said about the couple. He wouldn't give the name of the suspects until they're arraigned in court Wednesday afternoon for the growing operation. He did say the couple is in their 60's and has no past criminal record.
"You could asked anything about any flower and how to grow it and he could tell you," said neighbor Bennett Kaincer. He and his wife Linda live across the street from the suspects and have been friends with them for more than 20 years.
"He grew flowers and then he quit growing flowers last year. He was sick. Her back went out. I didn't think they were going to grow anything," said the Kaincers.
Investigators say it looked as though the suspects have had their growing operation for years. Last years, the Kaincers said their neighbors had put up a gate to their property which they would keep locked. If anyone wanted to get in touch with the couple, the Kaincers said they would have to leave a note on the gate. Last year is also when the Kaincers last saw the suspects. That's after they would see them everyday for years.
"When you see them for that many years and they don't come over anymore, something was strange," said the Kaincers.
Investigators say they also seized $2,500 cash from the couple's home, handguns and more processed marijuana.
The county prosecutor wants this case to go federal since penalties on that level could go beyond 20 years.
Investigators say this case is far from over and they're still looking into who else may have been involved.
"7,000 pounds of marijuana is not personal use," said Inspector Adamczyk.
WTOL 11 also asked about medical marijuana since Michigan is one state that allows it to grow. According to state guidelines, a caregiver can only grow 12 plants per patient and 12 plants for the caregiver himself. All plants growers must have a permit, inform law enforcement and grow their marijuana out of public view.