Man charged with growing marijuana in forest preserve
From Staff Reports September 21, 2012 3:56PM
Updated: October 24, 2012 6:38AM
WAYNE — An Algonquin man has been charged with growing hundreds of marijuana plants in the Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve.
Marcelino Villa-Rodriguez, 28, of the 200 block of Blackhawk Trail, was charged with unlawful production of cannabis, possession of cannabis with an intent to deliver, and criminal damage to property.
He was taken into custody Thursday following an investigation initiated by a DuPage County Forest Preserve District police officer that revealed the cannabis-cultivation site, according to a press release issued Friday by the district.
According to the district, the officer was on foot patrol Sept. 14 looking for illegal deer stands at Pratt’s Wayne Woods when he found hundreds of cannabis plants. The 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 then began surveillance of the area.
On Thursday, the initial officer and his supervisor arrested Villa-Rodriguez as the suspect walked away from the area of the cannabis-cultivation site after pruning several of the cannabis plants in 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, the release said.
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, according to the release.
Authorities estimated the combined street value of the cannabis plants found at Pratt’s Wayne Woods was approximately $1,417,000. The value of the harvested cannabis material found nearby was approximately $45,000.
The release said this is the largest cannabis-cultivation site ever discovered on district property. The plants have been removed and retained for evidence, it said.