February 22, 2012
Crime Stoppers Tip Leads To Marijuana Grow House in Brandon
Brandon resident Osmany Garcia Martinez, 27, was arrested last month and charged with possession for purpose of trafficking marijuana
As a result of an anonymous Crime Stoppers Tip, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies arrested Brandon resident Osmany Garcia Martinez, 27, and charged him with possession for purpose of trafficking marijuana.
According to HCSO, on January 31 deputies served a search warrant at Martinez’s home, located at 2311 Cattleman Dr., and discovered that the residence was being utilized as a marijuana grow house. Approximately 50 pounds of marijuana valued at $200,000 was inside the residence along with items used to cultivate marijuana, deputies said.
Tampa Electric also determined that Martinez was illegally obtaining electricity at the residence.
Upon his arrest Martinez was also charged with grand theft and the manufacturing of cannabis.
Commenting further on the prevalence of such grow houses, HCSO spokesperson Larry McKinnon said that drug nurseries can be inside million-dollar homes or small apartments.
“We have found entire houses turned into illegal drug nurseries,” McKinnon said, “The Florida climate and the potency of indoor hydroponic grown weed is a primary reason for people turning their homes into profitable grow houses.
The indoor nurseries use high-wattage light bulbs to help speed up plant cycles and run air conditioning constantly to cool the hot lights. While having the air on year-round might not alarm anyone in Florida, growers are rewiring homes to steal electricity from utility lines to avoid suspiciously high electric bills.
“These operations bring both drug users and drug dealers to neighborhoods and all the criminal elements that come with that,” McKinnon said.
To protect their crops, many growers utilize vicious dogs, but create a hazardous environment for both young and old. Some indications that a house may be a drug grow house include blocked windows, electric power lines that run illegally into the home or fertilizer carried into the house without any sign of a garden.
McKinnon said that as in the case of the recent Brandon arrest, residents are encouraged to utilize the Crime Stoppers Tip hotline and call law enforcement when they notice suspicious activities.
Anyone with any information or to reports suspicious activity is asked to call HSCO at 247-8200, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477) or report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com.