A hydroponic pot farm and counterfeit credit-card scheme involving 17 suspects was busted in Queens this week.
The investigation opened in April of 2014. According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, wiretaps and surveillance footage revealed a group of 17 friends in their 20s "who helped each other out with manufacturing and using forged cards to make purchases at Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Target and even Pathmark and Waldbaum’s supermarkets."
Brown said the group bought stolen credit card and debit card information from black market websites, then hired people to buy items for them (items which were later re-sold) using the info. During the investigation, officials apparently then learned of the marijuana grow house in St. Albans, which was powered by $67K worth of stolen electricity.
Altogether, police recovered a loaded .40 caliber Glock, two boxes of ammo, $11,259 in cash, six laptops and various computer equipment, five hand held skimmers, 2 card readers, 2 two embossers, four cell phones, three vehicles, numerous fraudulent credit cards and gift cards, 41 marijuana plants, two five gallon containers of marijuana and high intensity lights.
Fifteen of the 17 suspects have been arrested, and are facing a variety of charges including possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny, petit larceny and unlawful possession of personal identification information. At least one person has been charged with marijuana possession. They could each face up to seven years in prison.