SACRAMENTO, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A scheme involving mortgage fraud and marijuana grow houses located in several California cities has prompted 18 indictments, federal prosecutors said.
The indicted suspects are accused of purchasing 51 Central Valley homes through bogus real estate transactions and then using the homes to grow marijuana, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee said Friday.
Federal prosecutors Thursday said nine suspects are currently in custody with authorities searching for other individuals also facing indictments on charges including conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.
"They came into our cookie-cutter residential neighborhoods and created cookie-cutter marijuana factories," said Gordon Taylor, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration assistant special agent.
Authorities said marijuana grow houses were discovered in 2006 and 2007 in Elk Grove, Lathrop, Modesto, Mountain House, Sacramento, Stockton and Tracy, Calif.
Sacramento U.S. Attorney Larry Brown credited watchful neighbors for helping uncover the grow houses by noticing strange activities and unkempt lawns at the homes, the Bee reported.