Homeowner: I was tricked by renters in marijuana grow operation

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 22, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 22 at 12:40 PM

HOUSTON—From the outside, they look like upscale homes in the suburbs, but inside criminals were hard at work. Now the people who own the rental houses in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend Counties are learning the real details about who signed the lease.

More than 50 homes were raided by the DEA on Tuesday in a major marijuana grow bust. Investigators say the homes were rigged with equipment and filled with pot.

A neighbor told Dana Nance about the bust Tuesday at a rental property she owns in Spring.

“I immediately thought all the things that had been odd, (they)kind of make sense now,” said Dana Nance.

Nance has been renting out the home for a couple of years.

“I feel lucky that I never tried to go into the house, and that I wasn’t hurt or killed that way. There’s no telling what could’ve happened,” Nance said.

She says she thought she was renting her home to a woman, her child and her two younger teenage brothers. Nance remembers the woman telling her she was drawn to the home because of the schools in the area.

Nance is just learning that the woman she was renting to actually lives in Washington state.

“They hired this woman that specifically this was her job to go and rent properties. She checked out on every level. She had good credit. She had a good job with references. She had a good rental history,” said Nance.

Investigators believe the criminals are part of an organized Asian crime ring that specializes in high-quality pot grown with sophisticated equipment.

According to Nance's insurance company, none of the damage they caused to the home is covered.

Nance hasn’t been given permission to enter her home so she can assess the damage. She says she’s been told that the DEA has to first rule out her involvement.

Nance has a warning for homeowners putting their home up for rent.

“Get references on your references. You have to make sure you’re speaking to the employer,” said Nance. “It’s possible her rental reference was a scam.”

Every two to three months, Nance says she would drive by the Spring home to make sure everything was OK. She described the outside as fairly well kept.

She said the only issue she ever had was a request from the HOA to pull out the weeds.

“Another odd thing was that when I called them to tell them that, the neighbor told me they pulled them in the middle of the night with the headlights from the car shining,” added Nance.

At least 20 people have been taken into federal custody in connection with the grow houses.

 

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