823 West Western Avenue, Muskegon. (October 18, 2013)
MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- A taskforce of 160 officers from a variety of agencies arrested 27 people Wednesday in an illegal marijuana operation stretching across five West Michigan counties.
Now we are learning more about how and where investigators say the suspects did business.
In a warehouse with blacked-out windows at 823 West Western Avenue, police made one of their busts. The space is across from the YMCA and around the corner from an art gallery in downtown Muskegon.
The warehouse shares a parking lot with the motorcycle shop where Steve Roerig works. While he never went inside, Roerig says he believes most in this area knew what was growing inside.
"I was under the impression everybody in the neighborhood knew he was growing it. You know medical marijuana-- that is a big controversy anyway," said Roerig.
He assumed the site was a legal facility growing medical marijuana. "I just figured it was the way things were to be run."
RELATED: 27 arrested in five county marijuana bust
RELATED: Several people question recent marijuana raids
Drug enforcement agents say the location was involved in a statewide drug operation that used Michigan's medical marijuana law as cover. More than two dozen defendants are accused of securing medical marijuana cards from so-called "weed doctors" and using those cards to exceeded the limits for production and possession outlined in the law for patients and care providers.
Court documents say the co-conspirators harvested the marijuana from various grow locations and sold it for up to $2,800 per pound. Investigators say they earned hundreds of thousands of dollars and bought houses, land, and other items with the profits.
A Muskegon store was also listed in Operation High Mileage court documents. Friday the store was closed.
The 27 people arrested all are charged with conspiracy to manufacture and deliver marijuana.
Back on West Western for a brief moment men with their hoods up could be seen loading a moving truck. They would only say they didn't want to make any comments.
Agents seized cars, growing equipment, and cash during the raids, as well as 500 marijuana plants. They say the investigation continues and more arrests may be made.