Underground grow room held $800K in plants

Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 11:42 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 11:42 a.m.

An underground bunker at a Williston property served as the location for a marijuana growing operation with more than $800,000 in plants, the Levy County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Officers arrested Eduardo Morales Rodriguez, 47, and an unidentified woman, believed to be in her 30s, Monday on multiple felony charges in connection with the operation including cultivation of marijuana, possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of two or more IDs with different names.

The arrests and the discovery of the marijuana growing operation stemmed from 2005, when deputies received a call about a fire at 3651 NE 140th Ave. At that time, Rodriguez had seven semi cargo containers at the property and was burning insulation in a container.

He told officers he was going to bury the containers to make a storm bunker for his family.

Officers with the Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration were back at the home Monday and saw Rodriguez exit a trap door inside a pole barn.

Through the trap door, officers found an “elaborate” and “sophisticated” hydroponic indoor marijuana grow house 10 feet under the barn, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

Agents seized 193 plants valued at $868,500. Officers allege Rodriguez had been diverting and stealing power from Central Florida Electric for over two years to power the growing operation.

Investigators released a picture of the woman arrested but said they could not immediately identify her because she had three different names on a Florida driver’s license and a passport.

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