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Maraschino Cherry Mogul Kills Self As Cops Discover Huge Marijuana Grow

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #876)
Drug War Issues

The owner of a historic maraschino cherry company in Brooklyn, New York, committed suicide at his plant Thursday morning moments after officers discovered a massive marijuana grow-up behind a false wall in the factory basement. Arthur Mondella, 48, becomes the 9th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Dell's Maraschino Cherries factory in Red Hook has been around since 1948 and was founded by Mondella's grandfather. It is a major player in the industry, supplying cocktail cherries to clients including TGIF Fridays, Chick Filet, and Caesars. The plant has the capacity to process 400,000 pounds of cherries a week.

It also had the capacity to crank out large quantities of indoor marijuana. Once investigators discovered a hidden room behind a flimsy wall in a basement storage room, they uncovered a grow-op that could hold 1,200 plants.

According to the New York Post, police had received a tip that the factory was a front for a marijuana grow, but, unable to develop evidence to obtain a search warrant, they resorted to sending in the Department of Environmental Protection to do a "routine Inspection" -- and see if they could find any signs of pot operation.

When investigators unearthed a basement full of luxury cars, suspicions were aroused, and they then found some "suspicious shelving," which turned out to be a fake wall held fast by magnets. They opened the door and the rich, rank odor of marijuana burst from it.

That's when Mondella, who had been cooperating in the hours-long "inspection," ran into a nearby bathroom, locked the door, told his sister "Take care of my kids," and shot himself in the head.

Cops said they thought they had just missed a harvest in the operation that used 125 grow lights in a 2,500-foot hidden space divided into several rooms. They found 100 pounds of pot, $125,000 in cash, and 60 different varieties of marijuana seeds.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.



Clearly pot kills. Ban marijuana across the whole of the states before more innocent lives are lost.

Sun, 03/01/2015 - 2:06pm Permalink
UnpopularThoughts (not verified)

Wow. Yet another life tragically lost to prohibition.

On the other hand, what he did was very honorable, because it spared the other people involved from having their lives ruined over a plant. (His sacrifice saved his friends and associates) And, since he encrypted his iPhone 6 (smart man!), there's very little likelihood that there is much of a trail for the police to follow beyond the basement of the cherry factory itself. I think it's sad that he felt he had to commit suicide, but because of our draconian drug laws, he didn't have much of a choice. It was either that, or rat out all of his business associates and spend time in prison, disgraced for the rest of his natural life (Doesn't sound like much of a life, does it?). This may not exactly be a popular thought, but personally, I have major respect for the man for looking out for the other people involved in the situation. Tragic as his death was, it effectively prevents the police from going any further, and they're happy, since they get to pose with pictures of 100 pounds of pot and 125,000 closed, as far as they're concerned; job well-done. I also would like to point out that putting that bullet in his head was the ultimate giving of the middle finger and saying "f*** you" to the (in)justice system. Sad and tragic but ultimately satisfying, in a very dark and dystopian sort of way. 

(adapted from a Star Trek movie)

How many people does it take before it (in this case the drug war) becomes wrong? Hmm?








How many people does it take?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: If the goal of our social policy is to hurt the people we catch disobeying us, then the current system works spectacularly well. If the goal is to prevent people from using drugs, it's an abject failure, and a complete and utter waste of our tax dollars.

Keep the faith, everyone. And to all the sisters and brothers out there in the trade: Encrypt and compartmentalize your data! Plan your security and incident response protocols. The hindquarters you save might not just be yours, but your friends' as well! If you fail to plan, you'd better plan to fail.

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 5:45pm Permalink
UnpopularThoughts (not verified)

...Will likely end up "disappearing" from the evidence warehouse, as it always a puff of smoke, literally.

And the seized cash will likely end up helping to pay for the sunroof option on someone's new sports car.


Sad but true.

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 5:53pm Permalink
Dogs against Cops (not verified)

Sending inspectors to do a warrantless search is illegal but they can cover their asses with that. They will not start to seize the plant and sell it so they can buy more tanks and guns and army up the piggish pissant forces that they use to oppress the people. The cops and gov just say fuck the people without regard to what a state or city has approved through elections and votes and law changes. They keep this war alive to steal from the meek and easy targets. You dont see many busts against badass zetas or gangs that will shoot the shit out of the fucking pigs. I got busted once and they sent like 12 fucking pigs to kick my door in and hold a pistol to my head. Also plain view is them ransacking drawers and cabinets and closets etc and leaving as big a mess as they want. I hate the system and the gov and the police.  I will never give up again. Fight for your rights

Sun, 03/08/2015 - 3:22pm Permalink

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