ICYMI: The owner of Dell’s Maraschino Cherries, one of America’s biggest cocktail-cherry companies, killed himself after authorities unearthed an underground pot farm at his Red Hook factory. Details are still trickling out, and the latest update is that red-hued bees ultimately revealed Arthur Mondella’s massive secret.
As it turns out, Brooklyn beekeepers noticed that, instead of honey, their bees produced “bright red gunk” — which showed in their translucent stomachs. Then, the bees tested positive for Red Dye #40, the same ingredient used in high-fructose corn syrup. Mondella and the NYC Beekeepers Association figured out that as vats of syrup moved through the factory, they were placed briefly on a sidewalk, where bees fed off of it. All Mondella had to do was seal the containers.
Problem solved, right? But this incident ended up informing the Brooklyn District Attorney’s case. Back in 2009, investigators received a tip about a marijuana farm beneath the cherry factory. They tracked noticed some suspicious activity, but couldn’t prove anything. There was no record of there even being a basement in the building’s structure.
Finally, after years of off-and-on searching, a police dog indicated that it smelled marijuana and things got serious. Still, a search warrant requires evidence. This is where the bees — and runoff dye — come into play: The investigators justified a follow-up inspection by citing the evidence of illegally dumped syrup. It was then, at last, that they tugged on a few steel shelves, which gave way to a staircase leading to a 2,500-square-foot underground marijuana farm. And the rest is history.