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Authorities discover $24 million in the home of Miami pot dealer

June 30, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Authorities discover $24 million in the home of Miami pot dealer

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Police in South Florida have seized around $24 million in illicit drug cash during a raid on a home, arresting a brother-sister narcotics trafficking tandem.

According to the Miami Herald, officials called the sweep the largest cash seizure in the history of the Miami-Dade Police Department after investigators discovered sealed five-gallon orange buckets filled $100 bills in heat-sealed bags, concealed behind a secret wall chamber in the attic of a Miami Lakes home.

Officers arrested 44-year-old Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez and his sister, 32-year-old Salma Hernandez on Tuesday.

Hernandez-Gonzalez face charges including marijuana trafficking, weapons possession while committing a felony, along with money laundering. A judge has set bail for $4 million for conspiracy and drug-related charges.

Hernandez-Gonzalez is the owner of the Blossom Experience, which sells fans, lights, and other equipment for indoor gardening. Investigators believed that although the business was legitimate, it was being used to cater to the marijuana grow-house industry.

The suspect’s attorney, Frank Gaviria, said he believes that the prosecutors jumped the gun when they arrested Hernandez-Gonzalez.

Gaviria said, “My understanding is that he ran a very successful hydroponics supply store, which in of itself is lawful.”

The duo’s arrest was part of an ongoing investigation conducted by police, prosecutors, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to arrest documents, the DEA first began focusing their attention on Hernandez-Gonzalez 2010, when he candidly discussed details of the marijuana business with an informant.

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One source informed agents that Hernandez-Gonzalez undermined his competitors by selling equipment at much lower prices. He also reportedly bought high-grade marijuana and sold it to his own customers at an inflated price. According to the Miami Herald, the informant sold 101 pounds of marijuana to Hernandez-Gonzalez on two occasions.

Over the past few years, DEA agents have been unable to compile enough evidence to prosecute the suspect until early this year when they began listening to the man’s phone calls as part of a widespread marijuana probe that led to the arrests of 11 Cuban-nationals in Tennessee.

In Nashville, law enforcement officials apprehended over $140,000 in cash, 300 marijuana plants, and at least five guns. Among those arrested include 28-year old Pedro Martin and 32-year old Luis Rego, both of whom have ties to Miami.

The wiretaps that authorities listened in on recorded Hernandez-Gonzalez giving Luis Rego advice on how to care for his marijuana plants. Court documents also indicate that Rego sent Hernandez-Gonzalez pictures of some of his sick plants.

Hernandez-Gonzales reportedly told Rego: “You don’t need to do anything to it … You need to keep it … unbothered and cool. A little bit of food.”

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A search warrant was issued for the Blossom Experience on Tuesday. Inside the establishment, authorities discovered marijuana labeled “Super Skunk and Chernobyl,” marijuana seeds, and $180,000 in cash. In his arrest warrant, Miami-Dade detective Johnathon Santana wrote that the man reportedly admitted that he often helped his customers learn to “properly cultivate marijuana.”

After conducting a search of his home, investigators found heat-sealed bags of cash labeled “150K,” in addition to a loaded pistol, and numerous vials of steroids in the master bedroom.

Then authorities uncovered a tiny compartment, which could only be accessed through the attic through a hidden trap door, that was only about 6 by 7 feet and was located on the second floor of his house next to his children’s bedroom. After officers had punched a hole in the wall, detectives found numerous buckets of cash which had to be transported to the Miami-Dade police department via a pickup truck.

Police will likely move to gain ownership of the money while the feds may seize the man’s home through civil forfeiture laws.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement, “The amount of the currency seized represents one of the largest money seizures ever in this jurisdiction.”

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