$264K in pot seized in Lee grow house busts

April 4th, 2011 by Staff

LEE COUNTY - Four people have been arrested after authorities discovered several Lee County grow houses containing a total of more than $250,000 in marijuana.

Arrested were Norges Carballo, 39, Elizabeth Perez, 21, both of Miami; Armin Dominguez, 26, of Hialeah Gardens; and Osmany Portelles, 39, of Cape Coral.

Cape Coral Police detectives and Lee County Sheriff’s Office Interdiction investigators executed search warrants on three grow houses in Cape Coral and one in Lehigh Acres.

The effort culminated a two-month-long investigation in Lee County.

On March 18, authorities raided a home at 2427 NE 22nd Ave. in Cape Coral, discovering that all three bedrooms had been converted into cultivation rooms. They seized 40 marijuana plants with a street value of $160,000. Carballo was arrested and charged with one count of trafficking in marijuana.

On Tuesday, investigators executed a search warrant a complex indoor marijuana growing operation at 4318 14th St. W in Lehigh Acres, where they found a total of 24 marijuana plants weighing a total of 22.5 pounds. The pot had a street value of $96,000, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Additional growing equipment included 1000 watt bulbs, potting soil, fertilizer, fans, and other paraphernalia used to grow pot.

Detectives say the grow house was just feet away from Varsity Lakes Middle School.

Perez and Dominguez were arrested and charged with one count of cultivation of marijuana, one count of possession of over 20 grams of marijuana, and one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school zone.

Also on Tuesday, Cape Coral Police executed two warrants at abandoned homes located at 2002 NW 18th Terrace and 2121 NW 18th Place. Deputies say the same man ran both houses.

Rogelio Prestol lives across the street from one of those Cape Coral homes. He says he rarely saw any action at the house and that it was always dark.

“I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “Everything is pretty much closed up so you understand that something is happening that they don’t want other people to see.”

Detectives discovered four pounds of marijuana plants and equipment used to grow marijuana including soil, fertilizer and electrical and lighting equipment.

Police say the power was illegally tapped on both homes, and the electricity was being stolen to power the operation.

Portelles was arrested and charged with two counts of cultivation of marijuana and two counts of possession of equipment to cultivate.

“There are not too many people around here so people choose these kinds of houses to do this type of thing,” Prestol said.

In all, detectives seized a total of $264,000 in pot during the investigation.

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