Philly's drug trade is beginning to shift away from being a street-sale business to a wholesale-distribution business, police say.

The narcotics field unit Tuesday night arrested six men and immobilized what they believe was a large distribution point in Northeast Philadelphia.

Police said they seized about 300 pounds of hydroponic marijuana worth more than $3.2 million from a home on Brous Avenue near Dewees Street.

Hydroponic marijuana is grown indoors without soil. Instead, water, artificial lighting, and chemical substances are used to enhance the potency of the drug, police explained.

Also because of its potency, its street value is higher than soil-grown marijuana.

Police said Carl Thomas, 33; Courtney Williams, 32; Steve Graham, 24; Wayne Hilliburton, 33; Oneil Cumberland, 25, and Jermaine Perch, 23, were arrested and are awaiting charges.

Acting on an anonymous tip, Officers Matthew Beattie and Michelle Procter began a three-week investigation of the home.

The distribution center was shut Tuesday night after police saw a man place a large suitcase of what was later determined to be 35 pounds of pot into the trunk of his Nissan Altima.

"The vehicle was stopped at the Boulevard and Loretto Avenue and simultaneously the officers observed five men exiting that location," said Inspector Aaron Horne, of the Narcotics Bureau.

All six men, three of whom are from Philadelphia and three from New York state, and all of whom are Jamaican nationals, were taken into custody and face narcotics charges.

"This appeared to be a distribution site where individuals were bringing it in by a large panel truck," Horne said.

"But yesterday with just a little bit of luck and perfect timing we actually caught them in the midst of just receiving a large shipment."

So far this year, police said, the narcotics unit has seized $1 million cash, about $125 million in drugs, about 1,000 guns, and has served almost 1,800 warrants. *