Area cops uncover major mushroom operation
July 15, 2005 - daytondailynews.com
MONROE, OH -- Monroe detectives said they uncovered the first major growth operation of psychedelic mushrooms in this area in the bedroom of Richard Green of the 100 block of Wyndcrest Drive.
The uncovered crop was the culmination of nearly a month of investigation that involved collecting information from residents, according to Detective Michael Staples of the Monroe Police Department.
The drug, known as psilocybe cubensis, is a hallucinogen that is usually eaten. It alters the perception of sights and sounds when consumed.
Possession of even one mushroom is a felony charge, Staples said; quite a few of them were sprouting from Green's production plant, he said.
Police said Green had "one of the most elaborate setups" for cultivating mushrooms that they'd ever seen, which included horse manure, racks holding seven large containers of soil, a syringe containing thousands of spores, two humidifiers, a food dehydrator and an instruction manual downloaded from a Web site that outlined cultivation techniques for the illegal mushrooms.
Staples said their investigation revealed that Green used this process to cultivate mushrooms: He stored mushroom spores in mason jars and mixed them with purified water, which he injected into soil with a syringe. He also kept masks and latex gloves on hand, which he most likely used to keep his "garden" sterile. A food dehydrator was used to dry the mushrooms after he harvested them.
Staples said it took him and three other officers nearly an hour to remove all the equipment from Green's house.
"We told him he should use his ingenuity for something less criminal," Staples said.
Green - who has not yet been charged by Monroe police for the alleged drug cultivation - was booked at the Butler County Jail for violating a prior probation given in 2002 for selling marijuana, according to Butler County Jail officials. Investigators believe he had grown quite a few crops of the mushrooms over the past few months and was possibly selling them.
"I can't see (growing) this many for personal use," Staples said.
One crop can be grown in only five to seven days, Staples said.
The mushrooms will be sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigations in London, Ohio for a laboratory analysis of their chemical composition, which will allow investigators to determine whether they contain active ingredients, according to Ron Dye, assistant director of lab operations at the bureau.
Butler County officials said they haven't seen enough cases of the drug's sales in this area to have any estimate of its street value, which would depend on the quantity and quality of the substance.
"There's not a lot of precedence at this point; it's fairly rare in this particular area," said Detective Monte Mayer, public information officer for the Butler County Sheriff's Office.
Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper and Detective Dan Bussell - who has been with the Monroe Police Department since 1978 - both said this is the first time they've ever heard of a growth operation taking place in the county.
There have only been a few sporadic sales of mushrooms over the past 15 years, mostly in the Oxford area, Piper added.