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OfflineSleepAid
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Hillsborough deputies bust Cuban marijuana growing organization (Florida)
    #807696 - 03/11/16 01:24 AM (8 months, 19 days ago)


Probably not oregano, and yes that's a machete. I guess the police chief was like "Yeah build us a custom table to put drugs on. Yeah, and make sure it has like 30 fucking electrical outlets or so."

TAMPA — Cuban drug traffickers were behind a massive marijuana-growing organization that collapsed this week as deputies arrested 22 people and seized more than $2 million in drugs, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said.

An investigation dubbed "Operation Hydro Hustlers" began a year ago after sheriff's officials noticed trends in violent crime related to several houses throughout Hillsborough County. Deputies identified 10 houses that were used exclusively to grow large amounts of marijuana, the sheriff said at a news conference Thursday.

"Most concerning is that these houses are in regular neighborhoods where we all live," Gee said. "You may not realize it, but this could be happening right next door to you, potentially endangering you and your family."

Appearing to pre-empt criticism of the arrests, Gee noted that such houses attract other kinds of crime. He also pointed out that the marijuana grown in the houses was highly potent.

"This is not the marijuana of yesteryear," he said. "The levels of THC in this marijuana, especially the hydroponic marijuana, is very, very high."

Julio Alvarez, 42, led the drug organization, directing numerous other people to rent homes and place the utilities in their names, the sheriff said. The renters would spend as much as $20,000 to outfit the homes with privacy fences, high-intensity grow lights, expensive electrical equipment and gardening materials to grow the marijuana. They would manipulate the electrical circuitry in the home to support the growing equipment.

Renters would receive money to cover monthly bills and a portion of the proceeds from harvesting the marijuana, Gee said.

Deputies determined that most of the materials for the grow houses were purchased at Garden Hydro Empire Inc. in Lakeland, the sheriff said. They found links to the organization in Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Suwannee counties.

Early Tuesday, deputies executed 15 search warrants and seized hundreds of pounds of both live plants and packaged marijuana, bearing a total street value of $2.3 million.

The 22 people arrested face charges of racketeering. Five others remain at large. Three are believed to have fled to Cuba.

source


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