Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez, 44, Arrested,sister Selma Gonzalez, 32, also arrested
$24 million in cash, bundles of $100 bills insealed bags stuffed in 24 orange 5-gallon Home Depot-brand buckets in hidden “secret” attic compartment
Facing charges on money laundering, marijuana trafficking and possession of a firearm while committing a felony
Hernandez-Gonzalez held on $10 million bond, Selma Gonzalez held on $12,500 bail
The money ($24M) was stuffed into these buckets and secreted away in the attic
Police raiding the home of a suspected marijuana kingpin on Tuesday, found more than the bargained for, an estimated $24 million in cash, mostly in bundles of $100 bills in thermal sealed bags stuffed in 24 orange 5-gallon Home Depot-brand buckets.
The home owner, Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez, 44, and his sister Salma Hernandez, 32, were both taken into custody. The brother and sister drug trafficking team at this time is behind bars in the custody of Miami-Dade police.
Detectives found stacks of $100 bills in hermatically sealed bags stuffed into five-gallon orange buckets and hidden in a secret wall compartment of the Miami Lakes home.
They are now facing charges including money laundering, marijuana trafficking and possession of a firearm while committing a felony.
Home goods store owner Luis Gonzalez- Hernandez used his store as a highly successful front to engage in pot bgrowing and trafficking
Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez is being held on more than $10 million bond, while his sister Selma Gonzalez is held on $12,500 bail for conspiracy and drug-related charges.
The cash haul, found inside an upscale Miami Lakes gated neighborhood, is believed to be the largest single cash seizure in Miami-Dade police history.
Most of the cash was found inside a secret room only accessible through the attic of the house. The hidden room was guarded by a hallway statuette of St. Lazarus, a Catholic saint popular in Cuba and with followers of the Santería religion.
Police now believe Hernandez-Gonzalez who is the owner operator of the Blossom Experience, a North Miami-Dade store that sells lights, fans and other equipment for indoor gardening, used the legitimate business as a front , to cater to Miami’s robust but illegal marijuana grow-house industry.
According to an arrest reports, Hernandez-Gonzalez first popped up on the DEA radar back in 2010, when he openly discussed the techniquesof the marijuana trade with a confidential informant (CI). On its website, Blossom Experience touts itself as “unmatched service and support for their indoor gardening needs.”
Thereafter, he was targeted by police who believe he is involved in trafficking marijuana in Tennessee area along with two other men.
One informant told agents that Hernandez-Gonzalez undercut his competitors by selling equipment cheaply, then bought high-grade marijuana for good prices from his own customers and sold it himself at high profit. On a couple of instances, the CI sold a 101 pounds of marijuana to Hernandez-Gonzalez at the store. Although the DEA agents could never build a solid enough case to arrest him, their persistence paid off when his name resurfaced earlier this year.
Selma Hernandez in partnership with her brother Luiz to amass a fortune ($24M) from pot growing
Agents began monitoring phone calls as part of a massive marijuana probe that led to the June 15 arrest of 11 people described as “Cuban nationals” in Tennessee, all of them with ties to Miami. In Tennessee, investigators seized more than 300 marijuana plants, at least five guns and more than $140,000 in cash. The ringleaders, Luis Rego, 32, and Pedro Martin, 28, hail from Miami.
The wiretap caught him giving pot-growing advice to suspected traffickers.Hernandez-Gonzalez confessed to helping Blossom Experience customers grow pot.
During the raid by police and federal agents on Tuesday, they found marijuana, marijuana seeds and $180,000 cash in a safe. The police next, raided his home and found the buckets of cash along with a Tec-9 assault rifle with an extended clip.
After his collar, Hernandez-Gonzalez confessed to helping Blossom Experience customers grow pot.