Possible illegal cannabis growth suspected at building hit by trash truck

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published September 14, 2021


A garbage truck inadvertently picked up something that caught the attention of Sterling Heights police Sept. 8: a marijuana grow operation.

According to Sterling Heights police, a GFL Environmental garbage truck was driving south on Mound Road, near 15 Mile Road, at around 5:30 a.m. when another vehicle reportedly drove through a turnaround and interfered, despite having a red light. 

The GFL truck reportedly tried to avoid the other vehicle, but there was a collision, and the truck went through a Mound median and the northbound lanes before hitting a building at 35100 Mound Road, police said. 

Police said no one was injured, partly due to the building being vacant at the time. But when investigators examined the crash, they reportedly learned that the building had a marijuana grow operation inside it. According to police, the Sterling Heights Fire Department checked the building for safety and stability, and police are checking into the cannabis cultivation’s legal status. 

On Sept. 9, Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski gave an update on the case. He described the incident as a “pretty serious accident” with a “partial building collapse.”

He said at the time that officers had no one in custody, but police currently believe that the discovered marijuana grow operation was an illegal one, “just by the sheer number of plants and where they were growing at.”

“When you have a marijuana grow operation and you’re not licensed, we have an entire team — from our legal department, police, fire — to shut down those operations and to make sure that you’re doing it by the rules,” Dwojakowski explained. 

“And we’re doing that right now, to disassemble that grow operation, and whoever’s responsible for it, possibly file charges and make sure that gets removed from that building.”  

Dwojakowski added that police were investigating who was leasing the building as well as other people involved, adding that, “We know we have to figure out exactly what we’re going to do on the police end, the code end, fire end.” 

Anyone who has more information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Sterling Heights Police Department by calling (586) 446-2800.

Call Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at (586) 498-1058.