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MCSO records one of Arizona’s largest marijuana manufacturing busts in history

Some of the seized marijuana plants are shown. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX — One of the largest illegal marijuana manufacturing rings in Arizona history has been dismantled, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

In a release, the agency said the operation — which began in 2013 — was disguised as a medical marijuana growing service. However, unlike a dispensary, it allegedly did not conduct background checks, pay any associated taxes or fees and did not adhere to other legal restrictions.

“This is a major operation making millions of dollars,” Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in the release.

MCSO estimated the operation near 40th and Washington streets had between 600 and 1,000 marijuana plants. It would produce about 2,400 pounds of pot per year — plus additional hashish — and brought in about $7 million annually.

The agency said odors from the operation could be smelled as far away as 500 yards.

In addition to the Phoenix site, search warrants were also served in Scottsdale, Fountain Hills and other places in Phoenix. Overall, 20 weapons, numerous narcotics and more than $100,000 in cash were seized.

Charges in the case of forthcoming, but the sheriff’s office said five people have been arrested. It is believed as many as 25 people were involved.

The bust was carried out by several agencies, including several Valley police departments and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

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