Marijuana worth $1M found in Randolph ‘grow room’


A “grow room” containing 266 marijuana plants with a street value of $1 million was found in a Randolph commercial building, according to authorities.

Eight were arrested and charged by Randolph police and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office between Nov. 22 and Thanksgiving Day after the marijuana operation was discovered, following a “tip,” in two units at 400 Route 10.

The investigation is still underway, but on Thursday Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor in Morristown ruled to release Juan Addison, 46, of Hillside, one of the suspects, rather than detain him pretrial in the Morris County jail.

Noting the seriousness of the charges, the judge still agreed with Addison’s defense lawyer, Tom Belsky, that he should be released pretrial because of strong family ties and work roots in Union County. He also ruled Addison must report to court officials on a weekly basis and cannot leave the state without permission.

Court records identify the suspects arrested as: Mario Ramos, 51, of Glendale, Calif.;  Bronx, N.Y. residents Karolina Gajdek, 23, Cecilia Payne, 28, Niazja Rios, 28, Makeda Price, 26; Lila Wroblewski, 20, of Jersey City; and Rafaelito Ortiz, 37, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

   They all are charged with maintaining or operating a drug production facility, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of marijuana.

Five were released while the Prosecutor’s Office filed motions with Superior Court to detain Addison, Ramos and Wroblewski, mainly based upon prior criminal records.

Police received a tip about marijuana possibly being in the building around Nov. 8, County Assistant Prosecutor Erin Callahan told the judge. Officers detected the odor of raw marijuana from the exterior of the building and launched a surveillance plan.

Police entered the building with search warrants on Nov. 22 and found the plants in various stages of growth. Calendars hung on walls detailed schedules for watering and feeding the plants, Callahan said.

“This was a major, sophisticated operation,” she said. Multiple search warrants were also obtained to search vehicles of anyone who entered the vacant units on Nov. 22.

The room was equipped with heat lamps on a sliding track above the plants, as well as fans and filters. A second unit in the building was used for drying the marijuana, Callahan said.

 In arguing that Addison should be kept in custody pretrial, Callahan said even if marijuana eventually is legalized, “It certainly wouldn’t be under this kind of arrangement.”

Addison was seen at the location on two dates, including Nov. 22, Callahan said, adding marijuana was found in the trunk of his Honda Accord. His vehicle was stopped away from the building after he allegedly was observed leaving it carrying a bag.

Belsky said the stop may be challenged legally.

Addison had a relationship with the building’s owner, who has not been charged in connection with the grow room, Callahan said. Authorities learned that Addison had claimed he wanted to open a beauty supply shop in one of the Route 10 units.

Addison currently owns a business in Irvington called Endless Creations, authorities said.