Undercover investigation turns up huge stash of 'shrooms

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on September 2, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 2 at 7:13 PM

PEORIA, Ariz. -- An undercover investigation has turned up a huge stash of psychedelic mushrooms and landed one man behind bars.

Officers discovered the hallucinogenic 'shrooms in an apartment in the area of 89th Avenue and Bell Road in Peoria.

In an exclusive interview with Marissa Wingate, the suspect, who is behind bars at the Fourth Avenue Jail, said he doesn't remember much about the last 24 hours. He blames lacks of sleep rather than the "magic mushrooms."

Police said Brandon McCreary, 27, was growing the mushrooms in his apartment. During a search of McCreary's apartment, investigators turned up numerous plastic bags, each containing about 1/4 pound of dried psilocybin mushroom. The total was more than 5.5 pounds.

"Mr. McCreary actually had a bedroom designated specifically for the growing of mushrooms," said Det. Reuben Gonzales of the Avondale Police Department. That room had an elaborate lighting and watering system.

In addition to the dried mushrooms, police also discovered nearly 20 storage bins containing live growing mushrooms, which cause hallucinations.

One undercover officer said those hallucinations can cause people to behave erratically.

"It causes people to do things they wouldn't normally do," he said. "People will walk out into traffic. They'll do things out of the ordinary. They're not really in control of their state of mind. They can do things that are dangerous to themselves or others." McCreary's neighbors said they saw that first hand.

Investigators estimate that McCreary had between $11,000 and $15,000 worth of dried mushrooms packaged and ready for sale.

"It's very popular," McCreary told Wingate during a jailhouse interview. "I had so much. I didn't know what to do with it."

McCreary said he doesn't do drugs and that growing mushrooms was a hobby that "turned into something out of control."

Each pound of mushrooms goes for about $1,400. Police said McCreary's setup could produce 50 pounds of mushrooms per month. That's a potential income of $70,000. Investigators are not sure how much money McCreary was actually bringing in.

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