The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has busted at least 130 indoor grow sites in Nevada this year. In 2010, the DEA shut down 153 indoor growing sites in Nevada and seized more than 13,000 plants. In 2005, the DEA shut down 18 sites in the state and confiscated 1,000 plants.
Part of the attraction for this criminal activity is the return on investment: a pound of marijuana grown indoors through hydroponic cultivation can sell for at least $3,000, compared to $750 per pound for Mexican farm-grown marijuana. William Sousa, a criminologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says the dismal real estate environment has helped to cultivate this new spike in drug crime.
‘You can't have crime without opportunity,’ he says. ‘And all those empty homes present an opportunity for criminal activity.’