The sweet smell of maraschino cherries filled the air in the Dell's plant in Brooklyn. But inside the factory, there was also a sophisticated marijuana operation. When police busted it on Feb. 24, owner Arthur Mondella killed himself.
As Department of Environmental Protection agents combed the building at 175 Dikeman St. in the Red Hook section - Dell's Maraschino Cherries was being investigated for dumping - they stumbled upon the grow room filled with live plants, 80 pounds of dried weed and, reportedly, "hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash."
According to the New York Post, "The probe kicked off when Brooklyn DA detective investigators got a tip from a confidential informant in 2013 that the factory was a front for a marijuana operation. Investigators kept close watch over the business for about six months… Finally, they used environmental agencies to secure search warrants."
Mondella, who was 57, shot himself with .357 magnum in a company bathroom.
The family-owned company was founded by Mondella's father dates back to 1948. The bright red maraschino cherries are preserved in a brine; they get their color from food dye.