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Mastermind Shares Secrets Of Infamous Pot Cave

Posted: 7:58 AM, May 19, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-19 12:05:32-04

The secrets from inside the infamous pot cave: the bust made national headlines, and it has become something of a local legend. Now, the mastermind behind the hidden marijuana farm is finally talking.

Fred Strunk is out of prison and explaining his marvel of underground engineering. Some called Strunk an engineering genius.

To others, he's a criminal mastermind behind the audacious and infamous drug cave.

Drug agents in Trousdale County raided the natural cave hidden beneath a home in 2005 and discovered a high-tech marijuana grow operation unlike anything they'd seen before.

"It's just unbelievable," said District Attorney Tommy Thompson at the time.

The expertise needed to build such a marvel required a man with special skills.

Police zeroed in on Strunk -- a successful engineer. He was arrested and accepted a plea deal of 18-years in prison.

He went quietly, saying little in court. To this day, he's much a man of mystery.

Strunk served seven years before his release on probation. He now lives in California and for the very first time has agreed to talk about his infamous creation.

"Everything about it was fun. There were so many issues to solve," said Strunk.

He and his wife had bought the property in Trousdale County to build their dream home above the cave, which would serve as a storm shelter.

The finished product was spectacular.

But then Strunk's wife died in a freak skydiving accident. He lost interest in the home and decided to sell.

A buyer came forward, who knew Strunk's reputation as an engineer. He made Strunk a big money offer and asked if he could retrofit the cave to grow plants.

"He offered $50,000 a month for two and half years or about a million and a half dollars," said Strunk. "I knew what he was going to be using it for. I think there was no question."

It was the perfect place to grow an illegal crop like marijuana.

Strunk agreed to do it and gave this example as to why: 

"If Jack Daniel's hired me to build a whiskey distillery for them, I wouldn't consider myself in the whiskey business," said Strunk.

But whiskey's not illegal.

Strunk claims he never made a cent off the illegal crop, but he was convicted of conspiracy. Others went to jail, but Strunk received the longest sentence.

Now, he's sharing the secrets of the cave.

Police said the marijuana was extremely potent, and the plants grew an amazing three inches a day. The perfect conditions produced a year's worth pot in a very short time. 

"It should have produced 100 pounds every sixty-days," said Strunk.

The plants grew hydroponically in a mineral rich broth -- with no soil, but porous rocks that look like Coco Puffs.

To get into the cave, Strunk designed the secret access tunnel hidden in a basement closet. For a quick, secret getaway: an emergency escape hatch, up a ladder and hidden beneath a hydraulic boulder.

Again, why did Strunk agree to do it all?

"Honestly some people may not see it, but I liked the entertainment of solving the problems and make it workable and realistic," said Strunk.

It really did work, until Strunk got busted. Much has changed since.

The home burned, possibly the work of an arsonist.

The cave now sits empty -- no longer home to one of the most unique marijuana farms on the planet.