The Crabtree Nature Preserve Marijuana Operation, Part 2

October 1, 2012

The Crabtree Nature Preserve Marijuana Operation, Part 2

Posted on September 30, 2012 at Barrington Patch as a Local Voice.  Posted likewise at Deerfield Patch on September 30 and Lake Forest Patch on October 1.
One can not dismiss the significance of the elaborate Crabtree marijuana operation discovery of 2007 as being inconsequential as Marijuana fields were found not only in the 1,000 acres of Crabtree Nature Center near Barrington Hills, but also in the 200 acres that extends across Palantine Road, that make up the 1,300 acre Crabtree Nature Preserve.

Five years has passed, but marijuana smoking has not gone away, and it still exists at Barrington High School, and arrests are made elsewhere in and around the Barrington area.

Many individuals really enjoy marijuana, and are of the opinion that marijuana should be legalized, comparing it to cigarette smoking.

Marijuana growing operations have been found in National Parks and throughout this nation, but why did the Drug Kingpins select Crabtree Nature Preserve in Cook County, Illinois?

What might have been the destination for the Crabtree marijuana had it not been discovered?

Richard Waszak, at the time Chief of the Cook County Forest Preserve Police Force, in an article appearing in the Chicago Tribune on February 29, 2008, stated:  “This is the most sophisticated operation that we’ve ever seen …”

In the 2008 article was an account of an arrest warrant being issued for a third person, while two men previously arrested on July 20, 2007 at their campsite were sentenced to two years, Bernardo Rangel and Juan Verra.

Both men denied knowing the mechanics behind the operation, and enlisted in Mexico, they were lured by the promise of money to tend marijuana fields, driven from Mexico and dumped into the Crabtree Forest Preserve to tend the fields.    http://articles.chicagotribunecom/2008-02-20/news/0802281156_1_preserve_plants-forest

The amazing Crabtree story began on July 10, 2007, when a summer Crabtree Nature Preserve intern received more “on the job” training than any intern could have hoped for.

The intern stumbled upon and uncovered an extensive professional marijuana-growing operation in a peaceful natural area well known to birdwatchers for its 263 different species of birds.

The intern also encountered three men and an irrigation system on this public land where camping is strictly forbidden, and this was immediately reported to law enforcement.  An account of what happened next is :    http:/

  • More than 30,000 marijuana plants were planted in rows, in 11 areas scattered throughout the preserve.  Coyote urine was used to keep small animals away from the plants, which were about 6 feet tall.
  • At the time the estimated street value of the marijuana could have been as high as $10 million.
  • A sump pump and generator powered the irrigation system, siphoning water from a pond in this Preserve.
  • The plants grew in clearings within heavily wooded areas, but  some were just a few feet away from heavily traveled highways, concealed by tall trees, and some were only a stone’s throw from the Cook County owned homes in the Preserve and some just a few feet from Rt. 59, the opposite side being Barrington Hills estates.
  • Repeating, the marijuana cultivation was happening despite three homes in the Nature Preserve occupied by paid employees!
  • Investigators discovered three different campsites with cots scattered around the growing sites, each camp site had pots and pans, food, empty beer bottles and insect repellent for those living there!  One camp site had a copy of the magazine, “High Times”.
  • After a police surveillance of the campsites, two 23-year-old men in camouflage clothing, Bernardo Rangel and Jose Verra, both Mexican immigrants, were found in holes covered by brush, and were arrested.  Investigators are still searching for a third man who is thought to be the criminal mastermind behind the operation.
  • According to officials, Bernardo Rangel had a permanent resident card, while Jose Verra was in the country illegally.
  • At least 50 police officers from nearby communities and 30 Forest Preserve employees doused the cannabis plants with gasoline in a burn process that took two days.
  • Gary Olenkiewicz of the DEA’s Chicago office noted that the crop was carefully fertilized and watered in areas that had been intentionally cleared of brush and undergrowth.

This massive operation required an initial multiple delivery of the pipes, pumps, generators, chain saws, etc., used in the operation, and, food, beer and other supplies for the men tending the fields.

How did they enter and exit the property to reach the marijuana field undetected by the people living on the grounds?

Didn’t the people living in the homes see anything, hear anything, smell anything, not even noise made in clearing the fields, cooking smells coming from campsites?

Yet they said they did not.

Recently a sign was spotted along Barrington Road that said “Watchman Residence” beside the Mailbox, but there are also other Cook County owned homes inside the Preserve.

Might residents be able to review resumes for the individuals living in the Cook County homes?

The Barrington Hills Police Station is adjacent to the Nature Preserve, whose policemen travel Rt. 59 hundreds of times each week 24/7, and they say they did not notice anything going on.

It defies credibility to comprehend how the largest marijuana field in operation at the time in the United States could operate night and day and nobody living in or near the Preserve, or passing by the reserve, saw, heard, or smelled anything usual.

No guns were found which brings up the question of who was protecting the $10 million Crabtree operation 12/7?

For such a massive operation, shouldn’t there have been more than three men at the site, with only two of the men captured and apprehended?

After five years, one wonders how hard law enforcement is looking.

Instead, the Crabtree investigation was short lived.  Following  the Feb. 2008 Tribune account, no updates regarding the Crabtree operation were shared with the public.  Why?     http://articles.chicagotribunecom/2008-02-20/news/0802281156_1_preserve_plants-forest

There were three additional discoveries of marijuana-growing operations in Lake County in September of 2007, only two months after the Crabtree massive find. Were these finds just coincidental or might they have been connected in some way to the Crabtree Nature Preserve?

The marijuana seizures took place near the Waukegan-North Chicago border, in rural Wauconda Township, and in an unincorporated area near Route 14 and Cuba Road in Barrington Hills, where a barn yielded five pounds of cultivated marijuana and a large bag of seed, and a semi-automatic handgun, and a .358 caliber revolver, and cash.…OKE_S1.article

Barrington and Barrington Hills residents do care about marijuana growing fields and drug Kingpins on the loose.

The Drug Kingpins are out there, but where.

Part 1:


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