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Home  |  News  |  Deputies: Pot growers stole electricity for $400K operation

Deputies: Pot growers stole electricity for $400K operation
Thursday, October 6, 2011

 


LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - After an 8-month undercover investigation, Lexington County deputies arrested 6 people and seized about $430,000 in pot after serving search warrants on several homes in western Lexington County.

Officers with the Lexington County Multi-Agency Narcotics Enforcement Team on Tuesday arrested six people on charges of trafficking in marijuana, manufacturing marijuana and conspiring to manufacture marijuana. After executing search warrants at six homes near Batesburg, Gilbert and Leesville, officers also seized 51 pounds of marijuana that was packaged for distribution and 319 marijuana plants -- all worth about $430,000.

Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts said the bust of the "large-scale, sophisticated indoor marijuana growing operation" was based in at least 6 homes in western Lexington County. In each home that was used in the marijuana growing operation, electricity illegally was connected from power poles to the residences, where illicit electricity was used to power a sophisticated system of grow lights and irrigation equipment, Metts said.

NET officers executed search warrants at a home at 3014 Pond Branch Road near Leesville, where they arrested Ruben Cabrera, 38. Officers seized 36 pounds of marijuana, which was packaged for distribution, in Cabrera's bedroom at the home, the sheriff said. Cabrera had begun construction to operate an indoor marijuana growing operation at the home, according to investigators.

Officers found the marijuana packaged in 12 three-pound bricks in a tool bag in the closet of the master bedroom, Metts said. Officers also found $3,250 in cash that was stored in a woman's shoe in a second closet in the bedroom. Officers took the marijuana and cash.

Officers also executed a search warrant at a home at 237 Hayride Road near Gilbert, where they arrested Carlos Hernandez, 60.

Officers found 111 marijuana plants and indoor marijuana growing operations that were set up inside Hernandez's home as well as one trailer and one shed outside the home, Metts said. Officers found more plants and two firearms in Hernandez's vehicle, the sheriff said.

Officers executed a search warrant at a home at 710 Mackinaw Road near Batesburg, where they arrested Juan Manuel Padreda, 47, and his 22-year-old son who also lives in the home, Osniel Cruz Pabrea, Metts said.

Officers found 22 marijuana plants and an indoor marijuana growing operation at a shed outside Juan Padreda's home, Metts said. Officers seized the marijuana plants and $543 in cash.

Officers also executed a search warrant at 518 Hallman Mill Road near Leesville, where they arrested Oscar Rodriguez, 44, of 309 Buck Smith Road, Leesville, and Benita Pavon Roman, 47, of 313 Neely Wingard Road, Gilbert, Metts said.

Officers searched a bedroom at the home and found 15 pounds of high-grade marijuana that was packaged in one-pound bags for distribution, Metts said. Officers also found 47 marijuana plants and an indoor marijuana growing operation at the residence. The packaged marijuana and marijuana plants were seized.

Specially trained correctional officers at the county Detention Center who work under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) determined that Rodriguez and Roman entered the United States illegally from Mexico, and the correctional officers placed detainers on Rodriguez and Roman, pending further action by ICE.

Officers executed a search warrant at a home at 1428 Brodie Road near Leesville, where they found 95 marijuana plants and an indoor marijuana growing operation that is associated with other marijuana growing operations found during the investigation, Metts said. Officers are continuing to investigate who lived at the home and grew marijuana at the home. Officers seized the 95 marijuana plants.

Finally, officers executed a search warrant at a home at 624 Pine Grove Road near Leesville, where they found 44 marijuana plants and an indoor marijuana growing operation that is associated with other marijuana growing operations found during the investigation, Metts said. Officers are continuing to investigate who lived at the home and grew marijuana at the home. Officers seized the 44 marijuana plants.

Metts said the case remains under investigation, and the sheriff said officers might arrest additional persons. Officers are continuing to investigate where marijuana from the indoor marijuana growing operations was sold and how the marijuana was distributed.

Metts asked anyone with information about indoor marijuana growing operations to call the Lexington County Sheriff's Department at (803) 785-8230 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. Citizens also can provide information anonymously by accessing the Crime Tip link on the Sheriff's Department web site (www.lexingtonsheriff.com).

NET is comprised of officers from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department, Batesburg-Leesville Police Department, Irmo Police Department, Lexington Police Department and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Metts said. The sheriff and municipal police chiefs implemented NET in 2001 in order to enhance drug enforcement in Lexington County.

All of the suspects were being held on Wednesday at the county Detention Center while awaiting bond hearings, Metts said.

Source: http://www.wistv.com/story/15625570/deputies-bust-large-scale

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