marijuana prohibition
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Maraschino Cherry Mogul Kills Self As Cops Discover Huge Marijuana Grow

marijuana prohibitionBy Phillip Smith

The owner of 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.

Article From StoptheDrugWar.orgCreative Commons LicensingDonate

  • Budman

    Leave us alone!

  • grim peeper

    People kill themselves like it’s the thing to do

    • Jah Rastafari

      I’d kill myself too if I was about to go to prison for 30+ years for a damn plant. Fuck that noise.

    • michiganman

      I’ll treat your comment like a rhetorical question. That means it doesn’t need answering because it is so obvious that it was a sarcastic statement. Do you have any empathy for this man? See that is a rhetorical question because your comment shows you do not. Ok then lesson over.

      • Karen Ferguson

        Thanks. I was struck speechless. I needed to read this…and agree.

      • grim peeper

        Listen you snarky entitled Neanderthal troll. Interrogation by the greyman days are done. Take your questioning from your status quo comfort zone and shove it up your roomy @$$ b1+€h

  • Sinclair

    The sad thing is that he knew he would be persecuted beyond reason for this. What ever his reasons for growing Marijuana he should not had the fear that our government would if destroyed his business lock him up for life. What are you going to life in prison and made as an example or instant death. Hmmm. How about legalization and leave people alone. He obviously felt that he couldn’t get a fair trial And that the police and courts would do what ever they could to make him rot in hail for Marijuan. As much trouble as the police went through you would of thought that this poor man was making kiddie porn. Wichita he wasn’t. It is time for thikind of B.S TO END. Legalize Marijuana

  • Guest

    Agree the Public Perception would be he is a criminal and he gave his Family a bad name …. This was easier for him unfortunately in his mind, rather than bear the shame he thought would come!

  • MrPC

    In Colorado, a 2500 sq ft grow space isn’t “huge,” the authorities would have been there to make sure each plant was properly identified, recorded and taxed, and he could have processed maraschino cherries upstairs for use in edibles. As a bonus, he would have had no reason to kill himself.

    • Karen Ferguson

      I wish you could have been his friend. No guarantees, yet, a glimmer of hope may have helped. It often does.
      If my two best friends over the course of 10 years had been in their right minds, they may have not committed suicide.
      But alcohol and benzodiazapines distorted their thinking and one used a gun and the other, more drugs. I miss them.

      • MrPC

        Some people think drugs cause people to go insane, but most destructive drug users are just medicating a problem that already exists, although they can certainly make it worse. Valium and Xanax are poison, especially with alcohol, and can make you want to die, or just kill you outright. If doctors prescribed cannabis instead of drugs like these, a lot of lives would be saved.

        • Karen Ferguson

          I agree with you! My take is that the baby-boomers are going to want to get off all meds. i have to say, I’m surprised at all the anti-depressant use and benzodiazapine use [Valium, LIbrium]. It’s my hope they are led to medical cannabis.
          I don’t know who said it but I have to agree “All use is medical use.” Although I’d say “All use is healing.” :-) Thanks.

  • Reter

    What are the stats on drunk driving in Colorado now that weed is legalized? Did drunk driving go down? Less accidents?

    • FYI

      I think it has gone down actually.

  • michiganman

    sad…sad…sad. Friends of mine, a wonderful couple did the same thing 20 years ago over 6 ounces. No kids.
    Prayers for the family.

    • Karen Ferguson

      I’m sorry. That’s just so damn sad.

  • Andrew

    Could I have a chocolate home-spun milkshake with whipped cream and nuts, but hold the cherry I’m on a diet. Thanks

  • Nathaniel

    I am going to be a voice of reason here. This man was not doing his growing for house use or philanthropic purposes: he was dealing on a large scale. Engaging in organized crime, despite coming from the black market or from government entities, is wrong.
    Remove the fact that prohibition is wrong and accept the fact that anyone with 125 lights and ≈1200 plants is not outright supplying the medicinally needy, but is in it to make a buck.
    Slangin is still slangin regardless of how folks want to frame the conversation.
    Do I feel for his family? Absolutely, but this guy knew he was doing wrong, got caught, end of story.

    • Bea Centzabul

      So call it capitalizim. What part of the factory was more harmful to the public? The pot or the cherries? How many Manhattan drinkers have either chocked on the cherry or drank too many of those delicious concoctions, wrecking their car? Very few smoke pot while driving or if they do, they drive slow and careful. Let God judge what’s right from wrong, Let’s enjoy the lords cherries and buds without imagining which plants are good or evil. Thomas payne

    • Mike Johnson

      I would wonder that he killed himself…was profit indeed his motivation. Prohibition is based on lies about Cannabis and the time has come to reconsider its negative impact on society. Glory be to GOD for this wonderful medicine!

    • michiganman

      End of story and end of a life….did you really mean to sound that heartless?….nevermind.

    • Karen Ferguson

      >>>>This man was not doing his growing for house use or philanthropic purposes <<<<
      I wouldn't venture to guess and it's a guess, an opinion. If one wants to talk about 'greed'…why is 1/8th $35 bucks at my dispensary in CA and $60 in three dispensaries in Denver? I don't know….growers charging more? Greed: Glaxo Smith Kline was fined $3 billion for the damage of a drug and calls it "the cost of doing business." They made 44 billion off Risperdal.

      First off, I seldom believe the 'whole story' put out, in this case, by "Environmental Protection" agency. [I wish they'd take time to go after Monsanto]. Secondly, all the cultural, societal dogma out there that perhaps rolled around in his brain lended itself to suicide. We know nothing about this chap. I wouldn't have a clue what he was going to do with the cannabis other than sell it…..Maybe one of his customers wanted more, so he grew more?
      Conjecturing doesn't remove the fact that his kids are now without a father. Alas, far from the end of the story, imho.

      • Nathaniel

        To your question about weed prices, the answer is “what the market will bear.”
        You are right about discussion does not bring him back to his children, but that was his fault. Had he considered them he would not have been engaging in illegal activities to begin with. Was his business failing and he needed the extra revenue source to keep the cherry factory afloat? Maybe, but how about diversifying in away that won’t leave your family destitute or without a parent providing things go awry?
        Let’s say for a moment though that the EPA was exaggerating the numbers even ten fold. That is still 12 lights, 12k in cash [no one just has this laying around], 6 seed varieties [this is believable], and 10lbs on hand. That is quite a bit of product, equipment, and money to justify as personal use. And with the money, what? One likes to sit around and count 20s?
        Sometimes criminals are correctly identified: it happened in this instance.

        • Ah. The politics of envy. There have been whole countries run on that principle. Mass murder is the usual result when the profits evaporate and you run out of other people’s money.

          • Nathaniel

            There has never been a moment in human history, in any part of the
            world, where “money” was not created from theft, the shedding of blood,
            or some combination there of. Slave trading, pillaging, land appropriation, has all happened by relocating nomads or enslaving them to do an empire’s bidding. From these spring boards all other forms of wealth have been created.
            We could have a more in depth philosophical discussion about whether or not governments in and of themselves are a blight on the earth, but I am going to forgo that conversation in this setting.

        • Karen Ferguson

          The lack of compassion here is a tad frightening, if I got scared easily. I guess it’s a good thing we aren’t friends. My friends have my back even when I make a mistake.
          I rest in the comfort that your post doesn’t say a thing about Mr. Modella at the young age of 48, but volumes about you.

          • Nathaniel

            I have extreme compassion for his family, but I am not about to reframe the events to suggest that Mr. Mondella was anything but a common criminal.

            Just out of morbid curiosity, why should I harbor some level of sympathy for a man who knowingly chose to break a law, leaving his family without a male parental figure? Should I extend similar compassion to a man who evades paying taxes, gets caught, and upon realizing he will be headed to jail for an extended period of time, does what Mr. Mondella did and removes himself from this world?

            I have a more pertinent question, do you feel sorry for the likes of Mark Madoff? If you do you are a much more forgiving human being than I.

      • Albenap33

        Weed out here (CO) is $20 medical and a little more for recreational use man…. People need money, whatever their reason for justifying their means. And marijuana users shouldn’t be criminalized for enjoying their personal time getting”high”. It’s 10x better than beer and alcohol. So lets get high and stay alive! Drinking is shitty anyways, why walk/stumble around looking stupid and do something irrational and irreversible when you can get high, play games, go hiking, watch movies, draw, make music, run, exercise,etc!!

        There’s so much that marijuana is amazing for, I feel bad for those who can’t/won’t smoke and/or are scared too

        Marijuana distribution is just another form of supply and demand. Things would be easier and less complicated if it were legal

    • Wrong? No. Illegal? Yes.

      “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” — Thomas Jefferson

      • Nathaniel

        Despite the welcome rhetoric and great quote it is still current law. Can it be changed? Sure, but he knew he had a chance at getting caught, it happened, he took the chicken shit way out.
        Had he been giving his crops to medical dispensaries for free he could have made the argument he was trying to further the cause for medicinal rights or helping those in need. Only those who know they are committing illegal acts for personal gain, or are weak, commit suicide upon being raided.

        • I just objected to “wrong”. And “medical” is no defense in a non-medical state or where he was not licensed.

          I approve of personal gain. I like profiting from my work. I have no objection to him profiting from his.

          • Nathaniel

            And you are welcome to take that idealistic stance, but it does not negate the fact that he put his family in harms way for additional profit. It is a selfish act that cannot be justified.

      • Karen Ferguson

        Thanks for the quote. Most appreciated.

  • Ron

    How do you know what he was growing it for? Maybe it was for MMJ. And maybe he wasn’t doing it primarily for profit. I don’t know, of course, but then neither do you. However, I’m not passing judgment and falsely calling it the “voice of reason”.

    Have you ever bought (or sold) MJ on the black market? Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

    • Ron

      My other comment was supposed to be a reply to Nathaniel, but I hit the wrong button.

  • HeyJah

    A tragedy to be sure – but isn’t a grow that big a little greedy?

    • Mike Johnson

      In my life experience, the more pot one has, the more friends one naturally attracts…we lost a great friend. Thank YOU, GOD, for this wonderful medicine!

  • hey g cds

    A fully contributing member of society .With many years of employing and helping people.
    And this is what these anti marijuana laws do to people.
    Anybody related to not wanting change with pot laws simply should be ashamed of themselves.
    Although i didnt know them,my sympathy goes to the family

  • Ron

    The article says that he had “had a grow-op that could hold 1200 plants.” NB: “could hold” not “held”. Exactly how many plants did he have and what were their stage of development? Did he have ready-for-market weed in storage? Sorry about the tirades, but it pisses me off when the information released is misleading. I personally know someone who was busted for a couple of joints and it was reported as a couple of ounces.

  • Dave

    Prohibition makes crimes out of things that are not crimes.

  • Karen Ferguson

    This is tragic. It’s so unnecessary. Arthur Mondella’s suicide makes me cry. Who knows what he was thinking? I can only imagine: the shame, guilt, remorse, the family name associated w/ “drugs.”

    How do we do it? How do we all come out of the closet at the same time? In a show of comraderie and numbers? It seems to me that Mr. Mondella was isolated: I wish he had a friend that was doing the same thing. I understand that pit: there’s a tendency for one’s vision to get myopic.

    I don’t care if he had luxury cars. I wonder…when this all becomes legal across the country, what are the police officers going to do with all the memories of destroying lives & those that commanded the order. It feels to me that we’re headed for a huge epidemic of PTSD. I understand not all those in the DEA etc. feel remorse: just doing a job. However, I hope against hope that they aren’t prescribed drugs like SSRI’s [Paxil, Zoloft]. >>>Patients who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil(paroxetine) or Zoloft (sertraline) may experience side effects such as violent behavior, mania or aggression, which can all lead to suicide. <<<< .http://www.drugwatch.com/ssri/suicide/
    I want to stop the cycle of insanity.

    • Adam Braun

      This is why its illegal.

  • ĐΣFΣCŦΣĐ

    Wars created (Millions die) government demonizes freedom but embraces killing Calling it “Justifiable act” . Cops are no longer about protection of individual rights. Cops are an arm of government.

    This nation could end Prohibition in days, but we are all waiting on a few to do it for us. March by the millions to end prohibition: Show what it means to be free! You still have a voice that trumps government.

  • Adam Braun

    Just terrible. We need to stand up and destroy this disgusting Jewish power structure that has us by the throats.