By Tamas Mondovics

The ongoing illegal manufacturing and trafficking of Marijuana crops has no specific geographical limitations or boundaries. This was highlighted last month after Hillsborough County Sheriff deputies discovered two large grow house operations in Brandon.

On Thursday, May 19, at approximately 8:20 a.m., deputies executed a court authorized search warrant at 3812 Hollister Pl. in Brandon and discovered two rooms converted for the purpose of cultivating marijuana. The crops weighed approximately 345 lbs. with a street value of $690,000, deputies said.

TECO also responded to the incident scene and discovered an illegal electrical connection providing unmetered electricity to the residence estimating the theft of electricity at $9,238.24.

Eddy Acosta Guedes, 51, was arrested and charged with Trafficking in Marijuana, Cultivation of Marijuana, Grand Theft-Electricity, Own/Lease/Rent for Purposes of Trafficking and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

The incident marked the 20th marijuana grow operation halted in the County in 2016, but was not the last.

A week later deputies from the Special Investigations Division and District 4 Street Crimes Units executed a court authorized search warrant at 3818 Southview Dr. in Brandon, during which they discovered that two rooms had been converted for the purpose of cultivating marijuana.

Deputies discovered 150 mature marijuana plants weighing approximately 307 lbs. with a street value of $614,000, bringing the total value of the two locations to more than $1.3 million. The theft of electricity was $8,500.

Juan Carlos Rodriguez, 31, was arrested in connection with the crime and received the same charges as Guedes.

Drug nurseries come in many shapes and forms, and can be inside million-dollar homes or small apartments. Growers get smarter about concealing their operations, while putting local residents in danger.

“These operations bring to the neighborhood both drug users and drug dealers and all the criminal elements that come with it,” said HCSO Spokesperson Larry McKinnon.

To report suspicious activity, call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 247-8200, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com or text “CSTB plus your tip” to C-R-I-M-E-S (274637).