A couple and their son have been charged with operating multiple marijuana grow houses in Hillsborough County.
Ramon Fernandez, 66, Maritza Rodon, 60, and their son, Ariel Fernandez, 41, are charged with:
- Trafficking in Marijuana
- Cultivation of Marijuana
- Grand Theft Electricity
- Renting for Purposes of Trafficking
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said they found indoor marijuana grow operations on Westbay Boulevard, Birchwood Drive and Old Farm Road. Detectives recovered 370 marijuana plants with a total weight of 539 pounds.
The marijuana had a street value of $1,079,280.00.
Neighbors said they were surprised when authorities showed up at the houses.
"My reaction as that you just never know who your neighbors are," said Colby Hastings.
Residents said they saw cars parked in the driveways at the houses, so they thought people were living there. They also never smelled anything strange, though deputies said the houses were packed with pot.
"They did a really good job of covering it up, covering up the scents and things like that," said Hastings. "But I also think sometimes when it's your neighborhood you have blinders on."
TECO said the suspects also stole more than $20,000 worth of electricity to run the grow houses.
The Sheriff's Office said this is the 37th indoor marijuana grow operation eradicated this year.