Marijuana Cultivation Site Found on Forest Preserve Property

Man charged with growing pot in DuPage Forest Preserve after officials found hundreds of plants.

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County police officers arrested Marcelino Villa-Rodriguez of the 200 block of Blackhawk Trail, Algonquin, Ill., on Sept. 20. Villa-Rodriguez was charged with unlawful production of cannabis, possession of cannabis with an intent to deliver, and criminal damage to property following an investigation initiated by a police officer revealed a cannabis-cultivation site on District property.

While on foot patrol looking for illegal deer stands at Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve near Wayne on Sept. 14, 2012, a Forest Preserve District Police Officer found hundreds of cannabis plants. The cannabis plants appeared to be an organized cultivation site, which consisted of three plots growing in close proximity within a wooded area at the preserve. District officers began surveillance of the area.

On Sept. 20, 2012, the initial officer and his supervisor arrested Villa-Rodriguez after the man walked away from the area of the cannabis-cultivation site after pruning several of the cannabis plants at one of the plots. Villa-Rodriguez initially denied being involved with the cultivation site. However, when confronted by the officers with evidence of his tending to cannabis plants in the site, Villa-Rodriguez admitted his involvement in cultivating the cannabis.

Two District police officers, who are state-certified evidence technicians, processed the crime scene and counted a total of 316 cannabis plants. Due to the apparent organized nature of the cultivation site, Forest Preserve District Police contacted the DuPage County Metropolitan Enforcement Group (DuMEG) for assistance. While processing the scene, which included an adjacent area of non-District property, officers found approximately 7.5 pounds of cannabis material stored in two separate containers in a storage structure.

Combined estimated street value of the cannabis plants found at Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve was approximately $1,417,000. The value of the harvested cannabis material found nearby was approximately $45,000.  Investigative support from DuMEG included assistance during interviews, search of the scene, and in evidence processing. Further investigation is pending.

This is the largest cannabis-cultivation site discovered on District property. All plants have been removed and retained for evidentiary purposes.

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