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Police, federal agents raid marijuana-growing operation in Joliet

(MCT) — Local police and federal agents raided a Joliet home Tuesday that allegedly housed a large marijuana-growing operation, the third large-scale drug bust in the area since late last month, authorities said.

Officers who raided the home in the 6500 block of Roth Drive found 71 marijuana plants, 18 pounds of loose marijuana, four handguns and a rifle, Plainfield police Sgt. Mike Fisher said. The drugs are estimated to be worth more than $250,000 on the street, Fisher said.

Randy and Nicole Mota, a husband and wife who lived in the home, were arrested during the raid, Fisher said.

Randy Mota, 28, was charged with manufacture and delivery of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana and producing 50-200 marijuana plants, according to Will County court records.

Nicole Mota, 26, was charged with possession of marijuana, according to court records.

Both were in custody at the Will County Jail today, but their bond information was not available.

Investigators believe the marijuana-growing operation at the Joliet house was related to an even bigger operation discovered inside a Plainfield home last month, Fisher said.

"They're still connecting the dots here, but there's a good likelihood," Fisher said.

In that case, police raided a home Jan. 29 in the 12900 block of Tipperary Lane, where they found 92 marijuana plants, about 65 pounds of loose marijuana, equipment used to grow the plants and 100 ecstasy pills.

All the rooms in the house except for a bedroom, a bathroom and the garage were being used to grow marijuana plants, police said. The growers had drilled a hole in the foundation to illegally tap into an electrical feed and avoid suspiciously large electric bills, police said. Officers also found an irrigation system for the plants that involved using the well for the home's sump pump.

Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek called that grow operation the biggest he'd ever seen. Police estimated the marijuana plants were worth about $500,000 and said the equipment used to grow them was worth between $50,000 and $100,000.

Quy Doan, 30, of Romeoville was arrested in connection with the operation. He faces various drug-related felonies, including manufacture and delivery of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance, according to court records.

In yet another drug bust, officers with the Will County sheriff's Gang Suppression Unit raided a home in the 1900 block of Hampton Court in Plainfield on the same day as the raid on Tipperary Lane.

Police seized 8,460 grams of marijuana, 1,500 grams of synthetic marijuana, two semiautomatic handguns, $700 in cash and a 2007 Lexus from the house, sheriff's spokeswoman Kathy Hoffmeyer said.

Brothers Oudam Thou, 26, and Robert Thou, 22, were both charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, Hoffmeyer said. Robert Thou was also charged with two counts of possession of a firearm without a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card, she said.

Fisher said investigators do not believe the operation on Hampton Court was related to the operations on Tipperary Lane or in Joliet, but he acknowledged that having so many large-scale drug busts in the area during such a short span is unusual.

"Obviously, it's the same kind of problem," Fisher said. "It's one of those things that you don't see that often, and all the sudden we see a few of them within a few weeks of each other."

Police from Plainfield and Joliet and agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration were involved in Tuesday's raid, Fisher said. The DEA was also involved in the investigation into the grow operation on Tipperary Lane, Fisher said.

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