Police leave ransom note for pot plants, nab alleged grower


MARATHON, Fla. — After a citizen’s tip led undercover detectives to six large marijuana plants growing in a wooded lot in the Florida Keys, police half-jokingly left a phone number and ransom note.

“Thanks for the grow! You want them back? Call for the price … We’ll talk.”

Ten minutes later, the phone rang.

Steven Locascio, 48, negotiated $200 to get his six-foot-tall plants back and arranged a meeting place, authorities say.

“He’s got to win one of America’s dumbest criminal awards,” said Monroe County, Fla., Sheriff’s Col. Rick Ramsay. “The plants were worth about $1,000 each. So he probably thought it was a good deal.”

The undercover detectives loaded the plants into a pickup truck and met Locascio, who handed over the cash — and was arrested.

A court-approved search of his apartment turned up
20 smaller pot plants, four pounds of freshly harvested pot in a
freezer and several 80 milligram Oxycontin pills. Detectives also
seized $1,380 in cash.

Locascio and his wife, Christine, 50, were charged
with cultivation of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and
sale of marijuana.

“The detectives left the note as a last ditch
effort, thinking he would never call,” Ramsay said. “But sometimes
people do stupid things.”

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