Police near Cincinnati, Ohio cracked a \$3 million pot growing and selling operation. Apparently, the mastermind was a 17-year-old high school student who they think was grossing \$20,000/month. "Clearly he is a very intelligent individual and he was somebody who was operating a major drug organization as a 15-, 16-year-old student," said (Warren County prosecutor David) Fornshell. "He clearly has some intelligence but certainly misguided." (WCPO, thanks Charles Pescovitz!)

• mattmanning

Great. Now this kid will probably spend the next 20 years in jail instead of college and be a criminal for life.

• WillieNelsonMandela

He won’t spend more than six months in a minimum security facility, especially if he rats-out other dealers. Plus, if he was making \$20k a month, I doubt he was planning on going to college anyway except for the opportunity to expand his business.

• jarmstrong

Baby, if you’ve ever wondered
Wondered whatever became of me
I’m living on the air in Cincinnati . . .

• Bart

It was a \$3 million dollar operation that grossed \$20,000 per month? So that means its been going for 120months which means the kid has been a pot mastermind since he was 10?
Lex Luthor watch out!

either that or the police estimate of \$3M was a bit off.

• Aleknevicus

Your math is off:

\$3M at \$20K/month = 150 months = 12.5 years.

The 17-year-old would have to have been in business since he was 4.5 years old.

• dragonfrog

Depending on what they mean by a “\$3 million dollar operation” that could mean it’s got \$3 million in invested material and unsold work product in it.

At \$240K per annum, that’s an 8% annual ROI – but let’s not forget they’re talking about gross.  Assuming expenditure are a mere 50% of gross revenue, that suggests the net is in the range of 4% per annum – about the same as a high yield savings account.Though, realistically, what they mean is probably “big scary number likely to be accepted because it was pulled from an authoritative posterior.”

• dragonfrog

Actually, I guess it’s probably from this:

“task force members (…) seized more than 600 (…) marijuana plants.  (…)”  ”Officials with the Warren County Drug Task Force say the street value from the pot was \$5,000 a pound.”

Assuming each plant has a pound of bud on it (is that even remotely realistic?  Sounds  like a lot to me, but what do I know?),  \$5000 / pound * 1 pound/plant * 600 plants = \$3,000,000.

Presumably, anyone moving hundreds or thousands of pounds of weed a year isn’t selling it at retail prices.  And, assuming this was a continuous operation, lots of the plants must have been seedlings that hadn’t budded at all.

Assuming he was managing to actually sell 100 pounds / month (do the plants mature in 6 months? 3? 12? I dunno), \$20,000 / month gross suggests he was selling at \$200 / pound, or 4% of their quoted price above.

On the basis of which totally hand-wavey, speculation-y figures, they probably actually busted a \$120,000 operation.

• http://twitter.com/MadelineAshby Madeline Ashby

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cVzHeJ0Z3I I’ll just leave this here.

• LogrusZed

I’ve become so cynical about how police and DEA do their math that I just automatically divide any \$\$ amount they give by 100-1,000.

• jonas feit

(and@bart)

I’ve always imagined that the numbers are based on ‘what they would have grossed, eventually, if everything worked out perfectly, some day.’

You know, just like Enron’s earnings statements.

• sweetcraspy

They’re always fookin overestimatin’, and they fookin know it!

• http://cardboardcats.blogspot.com/ Goner Doug

another promising life ruined by our useless pot laws.

• chellberty

“He clearly has some intelligence but certainly misguided.” What because he didn’t pay your vig.

• user1234567

Did anyone check to see if his chemistry teacher is making meth?

• http://paulbeard.org/wordpress paul beard

Why does America hate job creators?

• blake31a

Pot?  What an amateur!  Send him to jail so that he can learn to be a career criminal!

• ldobe

I had a friend in high school who followed a similar story. He started using pot as a 9th grader, realized he could make money selling, became a pretty high volume dealer, started doing coke, dropped out, went to prison for a few months for driving w/o a license plus possession of pot greater than 1oz. After he got out he started doing and selling meth, had a warrant for arrest, fled to Montana.

Haven’t seen him in years, I broke contact as best I could when he started dealing. His idols were Scarface and the guy Johnny Depp played in blow.

Prison only taught him to be a better dealer, and warped him into a violent and ruthless person.

After all this, I’m glad to be rid of him. But I still don’t believe pot is a gateway drug. He was always an entrepreneur. It was in his DNA I’m sure.

• http://twitter.com/trempls tré

If anything, prohibition was the gateway drug. Think about if your friend had started smoking legal cannabis as a 9th grader, as I did cigarettes (8 months smoke free as of now): he would have buddied up to some of-age party people, had them buy him some weed, and smoke for fun. Instead, he found one illegal and lucrative market, which he chased into another, and after prison chased into another.

• clarkie604

There were several adults also arrested as part of the operation.  It would seem strange that the kid was in charge of the adults.  I think that the kid mentioned by the cops had a bunch of other kids working for him on the distribution side of the operation, but there were adults that were the main people in charge.  I think the cops focused on the kid for the press because they new it would be big news.

• WillieNelsonMandela

Maybe dad should have asked himself, “Why does junior have a Rolex and an Escalade while I have a Timex and a Pontiac?”

• jarmstrong

Because Dad would have soon pontificated, “Despite my best attempts to appear youthful by cashing in on all things hipster, Junior has far more style and street cred.  He has it in spades!  Maybe if I peg one leg of my jeans and ride a fixie…”

• penguinchris

Smart criminals don’t flaunt their cash. You can learn a lot from Breaking Bad, check out the cars that everyone drives on the show (other than the cartel guys).

• B A

If he’d been selling tomatoes on the same scale it’d be nowhere near a \$3 million operation.
If it were treated legally as any other plant and we could grow our own, then there wouldn’t be such a horrible, violent, dangerous mess rolling in filthy lucre surrounding the issue.

• RayCornwall
• Emo Pinata

Yes, the one with a \$3mil operation and a paycheck larger than that branch of the DEA in “this economy” is the misguided one. I will never understand how someone would read something like this and not think “why is this illegal?”

• elix

Nobody likes competition, least of all the government.

• http://www.facebook.com/stephen.kilpatrick.90 Stephen Kilpatrick

President Obama boo’d by die hard cookie fans in the same neck of the woods that a high schooler can become a “pot kingpin”. Coincidence? I think not.

• That_Anonymous_Coward

See what the economy as done to the children?!?!?!
To avoid student loan debt he decided it was safer to sell drugs!!!
Won’t someone think of the children

• benher

“He clearly has some intelligence but certainly misguided.”
Sounds to me like he doesn’t need “guidance” from anyone.

• http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

I moved to Cincy back around ’95, and, one thing leading to another, fell in with a bunch of stoners who turned out to be younger than I thought. I’m not a big smoker myself (we were mostly into the same music), but the only time I ever got cartoonishly “Reefer Madness” high was off of this crazy “Christmas Tree” shit that some Cincinnati teen was keeping in a Mason jar.

The kid in the linked story is the exception. Most Cincinnati teens with extraordinary connections either migrate to one coast or the other, or they wind up with middle-management jobs, a spouse, a house in the suburbs, and a mortgage.

• http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Hart/607879634 David Hart

ok, so this kid was grossing 20k a month.

which means he was grossing 5 grand a week. if he was growing, he wouldn’t be nickel and diming his product out by the gram to a thousand kids. he would have team of middle men that he would float the product to, trusted guys who would consistently move the weight to the community. they would distribute that to other middle men . and so on and so on down the line.

lets say this guy is selling 2 pounds a week for \$5000 to his 4 comrades. ( he was probably actually moving less and charging a lot more.)

\$5000 / 4 = \$1250 per dealer.

those dealers each get a half pound or 8 ounces.

\$1250 / 8 = \$ \$156.25 an ounce cost. these dealers probably sold ounces to lower level dealers for \$250-300 an ounce.

then the ounces would be broken down into quarters and sold to the actual smokers for between \$80-120.

132 quarter ounces a week spread out between a few high schools & colleges. its not that much.

now when thinking about the 3 million, cops will always use “street value” even when talking about a large quantity. so while this guy was moving a pund for arbitrarily 2500 dollars, the cops will apply the maximum value to it. say, \$20 a gram, making that same pound worth \$8960 on “the street”.

lets not even get into the fact that cops will do ridiculous things like keep the plants in the buckets when calculating the size of the bust, weighing both container and dirt as well as marijuana.  plus, properly dried & manicured weed ready for the street is alot lighter than wet buds still attached to the stems and stalks.

there are a lot of variables.

either way, legalize it!

• http://twitter.com/deathsmiled Wendy Kitten

I think that was the most informative thing I’ve read all day. Salute.

• 666beast1

Crime is America’s growth industry now.