HAMMOND | Complaints about unruly neighborhood pit bulls led to the discovery of an extensive marijuana-growing operation in the basement of a Hessville house, police said Thursday.
The renter of the property in the 6800 block of Alabama Avenue, Michael Victor Boone, 32, now has been charged with nine felonies in Lake Superior Court.
Neighbors told Hammond police Boone, his wife and two small children moved into the house about a month ago — along with several pit bull terriers.
The dogs barked constantly and regularly escaped their yard, residents said.
Officers visiting the house Tuesday afternoon regarding the animal complaints reported smelling a strong odor of burnt marijuana. When questioned, Boone handed over an ounce of marijuana and told officers that was all he had in the house, police said.
Boone refused to let the officers search the property, and they, along with detectives, returned later that evening with a search warrant, according to the police reports.
Nine pounds of packaged cannabis were stored in the basement of the home and its garage, according to an affidavit filed by prosecutors, and 242 marijuana plants — weighing 3.5 pounds after their stems had been removed — were growing in the basement.
Pills — including the controlled pharmaceuticals hydrocodone, alprazolam and clonazepam — also were found, detectives said, as well as heat lamps, humidifiers, light converter boxes and $4,823.
Boone faces three counts of dealing in a controlled substance, dealing in marijuana, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance.
The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 59 years in prison and a potential fine of $90,000 upon conviction.