The lure of more than a quarter-million dollars of large, healthy marijuana plants led to the arrests of three South Florida suspects on burglary charges and the tenant of a Plant City home on charges of operating a pot grow house.
A call came in just before noon on Friday about a van pulling up to 6608 Knights Griffin Road and dropping off two men and leaving. When Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found fresh pry marks on a shed.
A tracking dog was brought to the address and found two suspects, Yuniel Hernandez-Carrera, 32, Miami; and Leonardo Benito Catala, 32, Pembroke Pines. Both were arrested without incident. Deputies located the van nearby and arrested the driver, Yenisleidy Moreno-Morgan, 25, Miami. All three were charged with possession of burglary tools and burglary of an unoccupied structure.
Hernandez-Carrera and Moreno-Morgan were released after posting $3,000 bail. Benito Catala was released after posting $4,000 bail, records show.
During a routine search of a detached garage, deputies found that it had been converted to a marijuana grow house. A total of 65 large marijuana plants were growing in pots, and apparently were what the suspected burglars were after, deputies said.
A TECO employee was called in and located an illegal power connection that provided unmetered electricity to the garage. Deputies say as much as $10,000 worth of power was stolen to run lights and irrigation systems.
The tenant of the house, Luis Alvarez-Alonso, 40, who wasn’t home at the time, was arrested later in the day. He was charged with trafficking in marijuana, manufacture of marijuana, owning, leasing or renting for the purpose of trafficking and grand theft. He remained jailed Tuesday. Bail was set at $16,000.
Deputies said the pot weighed a total of 220 pounds and was worth $265,000 on the street.