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$24 million cash stuffed in buckets recovered at suspected pot dealer’s home

o-MARIJUANA-facebook-800x430By David Ovalle The Miami Herald From Raw Story

MIAMI — Miami-Dade police detectives raiding the home of a suspected marijuana trafficker unearthed at least $24 million in cash — all in bundles of $100 bills in heat-sealed bags stuffed in dozens of orange 5-gallon Home Depot-brand buckets.

Authorities are still counting the money, most of which was found inside a secret compartment in the attic of the Miami Lakes home but it already qualifies as the largest cash seizure in the department’s history.

Arrested was Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez, 44, who owns and operates the Blossom Experience, a North Miami-Dade store that sells lights, fans and other equipment for indoor gardening. The business is believed to cater to Miami’s robust but illegal marijuana grow-house industry.

The discovery on Tuesday was part of investigation by the police, prosecutors and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration into Hernandez-Gonzalez and two other men believed to be trafficking marijuana in Tennessee.

For now, Hernandez-Gonzalez was facing a host of state charges, including money laundering, marijuana trafficking and possession of a firearm while committing a felony.

He will appear in Miami-Dade bond court on Wednesday afternoon. His sister, Salma Hernandez, who worked at the Blossom Experience, was also arrested and charged.

According to an arrest report, the DEA first began targeting Hernandez-Gonzalez back in 2010, when he openly discussed the ins-and-outs of the marijuana trade with a confidential informant. On its website, Blossom Experience touts itself as “unmatched service and support for their indoor gardening needs.”

His name surfaced again earlier this year when DEA agents monitoring phone calls as part of a wide-ranging marijuana probe that netted the arrest of 11 people in Tennessee.

The wiretaps recorded Hernandez-Gonzalez, in phone calls, giving advice to suspected traffickers in Tennessee about how to care for the plants.

On Tuesday, police and agents raided the Blossom Experience, finding marijuana seeds, marijuana and $180,000 cash in a safe. He admitted to frequently helping customers learn how to “properly cultivate marijuana,” Miami-Dade Detective Jonathan Santana wrote in his arrest report.

Next, the investigators raided his well-to-do home in Miami Lakes. That’s where they found the cash, along with a loaded Tec-9 pistol with an extended clip, the police report said.

He initially denied there was any money in the house.

To get to the hidden compartment, detectives in the attic had to lift up a fiberglass insulation to get to the windowless compartment where most of the buckets were found.


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