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:

A few weeks ago while driving north on Sheridan Road to return to my home in Lake Bluff, I noticed that a new business had moved into the store front formerly occupied by Sweet Things at 615 Sheridan Road.
On driving past I noticed that a sign posted in the window, adorned with a banner of colorful flags, announced the opening of DIGITZ, a nail experience salon.

Well aware that my nails lacked the tender loving care they deserve, shortly after wards I visited DIGITZ from its back door parking lot entrance next to Brookside Cleaners, with whom DIGITZ shares a store front.

To my surprise I was greeted by proprietor, Ilene Disch, who was also the proprietor of the former business that occupied the same space, Sweet Things.

Upon questioning the demise of Sweet Things and the birth of DIGITZ, Ilene Disch was eager to tell me how in October of 2011 she opened Sweet Things, basically to employ her seventy-five-year-old father and hopefully add a fun children’s store to Lake Bluff.

Continuing, Ilene informed me that in May she sold Sweet Things.  After only three months the new owner decided for whatever reason to leave the location, at which time Ilene had to assume the responsibility of the rent.

It was then that Ilene remembered what her aunt had once told her — “When you are handed lemons, make lemonade.”

And Ilene did just that!  In 1995 Ilene received her license as a nail technician which she kept up to date “just in case.”   Having the location to fill, Ilene figured that now was her “just in case” moment.

Doing nails had always been Ilene’s passion.  She has been doing nails in people’s homes for many years.  Ilene enjoys interacting with clients while doing nails.

Looking around I could see that Ilene has made her salon homey and comfortable.  Ilene wants her clients to feel welcome as they enter her shop, as I certainly did.

Coffee, water, lemonade and even wine are offered to compliment the relaxing atmosphere of DIGITZ.

The price is also right!  Manicures and Pedicures are always $25.00.  Children eleven and under can get a manicure for only $8.00.

Ilene Disch at DIGITZ does manicures, pedicures, no-chip manicures, waxing as well as other nail services.  A young girl told Ilene she should carry feathers for their hair, and she now does just that.

Ilene did ask that appointments are made as she is the only nail technician at the time, even though walk-ins are welcome.

If you know of a nail technician that is available for hire, please send the to DIGITZ.  Ilene Disch is looking to expand her business.

DIGITZ is open Tuesday – Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m; Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m; and Sunday and Monday by appointment.

Call today to schedule an appointment at 815-979-9505, so you can get in and out without waiting as a walk-in.

I did and how pleasing the results were!


C0mmentary by Nancy J. Thorner:
According to the latest article posted today by editor Paula Skaggs, “Board, LFEA Fail to Come to an Agreement After 14 Hours of Negotiations.” With the failure to reach an agreement, the Lake Forest High School teacher strike enters its sixth day.

One statement in today’s update teacher strike article by Paula Skaggs informed readers that “the Board agreed to bring in a neutral third party to review and verify the claim by the LFEA that the district’s fund balance will grow by over $20 million over the next three years.”

Why  is the District 115 Board giving so much credence to the red herring  argument raised by the union that because there might be more money in  the till to grab, the Board ought to give it to the teachers?

Salient points, and ones that have been repeatedly emphasized by the taxpayers in the wake of the strike, are: 1) that LFHS  teachers are already overly compensated, particularly given that so many highly paid teachers are either performing relatively low-skilled work (drivers’  ed) or performing higher level work bu doing a marginal or poor job; and 2) that the taxpayers are in desperate need for substantial tax  relief — something that might be possible if the Board holds firm on its current wage increase offer.

In another Patch article, chief union negotiator and Lake Forest High School teacher Charles Gress was quoted as saying that the union’s demands must be met to insure quality teachers for LFHS.

That contention is outrageous given that the current tenure and  seniority-based union contract has the inevitable result of fostering  mediocrity despite our paying top dollar.

One  parent who wished to remain anonymous said the other day that this  strike really cheapens the once exalted teaching profession.

An announcement made by the Board in a release late last night (9/17), reaffirmed that the Board had taken its two-tiered salary position  request off the bargaining table and expected substantive movement from  the Union on the remaining issue of salary.

Although it was not pleasing to hear that the Board had given in to one of the  union demands, may the Union at least see the Board’s decision as an act  of good will in further bargaining sessions.

What  the union is doing is akin to armed robbery, with our children’s  well-being as their weapon.  It is a shame that our labor laws have  enabled this to happen, not only in Lake Forest District 115, but also in other school districts throughout Illinois and in the City of Chicago.

Nancy J. Thorner

Chicago certainly means different things to different people.  It is also a city where homicides outnumber U.S. troop killings in Afghanistan.…/chicago-homicide-rate-wpr_m_1602692

As No. 2 on the Top 10 list of Big Cities when it comes to murder – Chicago is on a path to overtake New York as the murder capital of the United States.

According to an article by Jason Keyser published on 4/12/12, “Homicides in Chicago spiked by 60 percent during the first three months of the year despite an increase in police resources in the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods, according to new police crime statistics.”

Police statistics show 120 homicides from Jan. 1 through April 1, compared with 75 over the same period in 2011.  In August alone more than 55 homicides were recorded, making August the deadliest month of the year.

At the very least a “State of Emergency” should have been declared in Chicago.

How is it that only days after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for federal grants and U.S. Marshals to help combat the city’s wave of violence, about 50 Chicago police officers were sent to Charlotte to work perimeter security details for a week at the Democratic National Convention.  The police officers were also instructed not to talk with reporters about their out-of-town assignment.

As Rev. Acree of the Greater St. John Bible Church in Chicago told the Wall Street Journal last week, “I would love to know the logic behind the decision to send them there given all that is happening her in Chicago.”Chicago police-union officials likewise questioned sending the 50 officers to Charlotte.

“We had two homicides and dozens of shootings this weekend, and we’re sending officers out of the city?” said Pat Camden, a spokesperson for the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.  I think the average person would shake his head over that.”

Officials in Chicago argued that the officers were “on their days off and were not pulled off the street,” and noted that their salaries are being paid by a federal grant that was made for convention security.

Still one might ask whether this is relevant.  As a city that should rightly be in a  state of an emergency, shouldn’t all the officers available be employed to try to get a handle of Chicago’s staggering murder rate.  If those officers are available for duty in North Carolina, why couldn’t they be asked to work overtime in Chicago?

Instead fifty Chicago police men, as did Mayor Emanuel, departed for Charlotte and the Democratic Convention.  Emanuel’s mission was to speak for Obama’s re-election.  In doing so Mayor Emanuel seemed unchalent about the almost daily murders taking place in Chicago.  After all, didn’t Mayor Emanuel act by calling for federal grants and U.S. marshals to help combat Chicago’s violence days before his departure?

Could it be that Union rules were at play?  Labor costs of unionized officers have become prohibitive, as have labor costs for all who are members of public sector unions.

Could labor costs also have been a factor for the substantial reduction in the police budget by Mayor Emanuel?  About a thousand officers retired over the last two years, but only about 200 have been hired.

Although Mayor Emanuel returned to Chicago the day after he spoke at the Democratic Convention (9/4), he claimed that his speedy return was not related to Chicago’s out-of-control crime wave, or even the pending Chicago teachers’ strike, but to host a watch party for campaign staffers who could not make it to the Democratic Convention in Charlotte.

Perhaps if the violence were taking the lives of white children, there would be much more of an urgency by Mayor Emanuel to end the carnage?   Instead, it is young African American and Latino bodies that are fueling Chicago growing murder rate.