Story by Jennifer O’Connor
As easy as it is to get caught up in daily routines and everyday tasks, it’s still very important to be vigilant of your surroundings. In a quiet neighborhood in Warwick, residents noticed unusual activity and alerted the Warwick Police Department which led them to uncovering a sophisticated grow house of marijuana at 53 Horizon Farms Dr.
Neighbors reported to the Warwick Police on Sun., Apr. 23 that they noticed a suspicious van at the house. A Warwick Police officer responded to the call and knocked on the door of the home, but no one answered.
Warwick Police Lt. Thomas Maslanka said that the officer was astute enough to make observations about the condition of the house. Many of the windows of the house were blocked and the officer smelled an order of marijuana coming from a dryer vent. The police officer immediately contacted the Department’s narcotics unit and the Detective Sergeant.
“The Police officers worked 24 hours straight to make this whole thing happen and they did an awesome job,” said Warwick Police Lt. Thomas Maslanka. “We live in a great community. The neighbors who called us did a great job. This shows that when we work together we are unstoppable.”
Lt. Maslanka then said that the keenness of the residents in the neighborhood is vital in today’s world where ‘If you see something, say something,’ plays a key role in preventing and combating crime. In this situation Police uncovered a majority of the marijuana plants in the basement and family room over the garage in a beautiful Colonial-style home.
Lt. Maslanka said the street value is over $300,000 and the discovery was made after the Police observed two men leaving the house on Mon., Apr. 24 around 10 p.m. with two large boxes. When the Police Officers approached the men, one of them – Christian Toledo surrendered, while the other fled. Officer Kevin Halsey and his K9 dog, Nikki, found John DeJesus hiding behind an air conditioner at a house nearby.
Lt. Maslanka said that DeJesus, 29, was treated and released from St. Anthony Community Hospital after he was bitten by the K9 dog. Both DeJesus and Toledo, 28, were charged with fourth degree conspiracy to distribute marijuana and first-degree possession of marijuana – felony charges. Both men are from the Bronx, NY.
According to Lt. Maslanka, the homeowner used a reputable real-estate agency to rent the home. He also said that the State Police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team dismantled the grow house. The team is equipped with masks and protective clothing to prevent health hazards such as breathing in airborne levels of mold from the humid conditions created in the house to grow the marijuana. The exposure can cause respiratory diseases.
Lt. Maslanka commended the State Police as well as the Warwick Police officers and the community for working together and “doing an astounding job.”