Cops: Cherry Factory Hid NYC's Biggest Pot Farm

Police probing possible mob links
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2015 4:41 AM CST
Cops: Cherry Factory Hid Biggest NYC Pot Farm
Jars of maraschino cherries move along the assembly line at Dell's Maraschino Cherries.   (AP Photo/The New York Times, Richard Perry)

A maraschino cherry factory makes a pretty good place to hide a marijuana grow-op, according to police probing the suicide of Arthur Mondella. Investigators say the operation at Dell’s Maraschino Cherries Company is the biggest they've found in New York City, and both the smell of cherries and the huge amounts of electricity used at the Brooklyn plant would have been "very convenient" in hiding a farm that grew around 1,200 plants, reports the New York Times. Police sources tell the New York Daily News that they don't have any other suspects right now, but the operation appears too big and sophisticated to have been solely operated by Mondella, who shot himself on Tuesday when investigators at the factory were about to discover the secret business. Investigators suspect the pot business may have been linked to a crime syndicate, according to the Times.

Sources tell the Daily News that investigators have found seeds of 60 strains of marijuana and a hidden office that held dozens of horticultural books, as well as the World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime. For both investigators and family members, the mystery is deepened by the fact that Mondella, who inherited the business from his father and grandfather, was making plenty of money just selling cherries. "No one seems to have had any clue that this was going on, and there certainly didn't seem to be any strange or traumatic circumstances that would've explained this," a lawyer for the Mondella family tells the Times. "The business was not doing poorly; the business was doing very well. We were unaware of any major problems in Arthur's life. Somebody knows—but we're all waiting for answers here." (Another marijuana grow-op was recently foiled ... by its roof.)

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