CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- It's the largest underground-drug growing operation the Clay County Sheriff's Office has seen in years. Action News has learned the suspects arrested were so organized and skilled even the materials they used couldn't be traced back locally.
Police say the suspects worked hard to be completely inconspicuous. We found out one of the suspects was very knowledgeable in electrical work, and allegedly tapped into a power line, to run wiring that would light up their underground greenhouse.
About $846,000 worth of very high-grade marijuana is now in the hands of the Clay County Sheriff's Office, after deputies found a massive underground growing operation in a rural Middleburg community. They describe what was found 20 feet below the home as remarkable.
"They had to dig this hole, they had to put it in there, they even poured a concrete patio over the top of it," said Sheriff Rick Beseler.
Two 40-foot tractor-trailer units were filled with more than 200 pot plants, and maintained by five Cuban men, living in this country legally. They used intricate cooling systems and stolen power for lighting the bunkers.
"They appeared to be construction workers with backhoes and trackhoes and heavy construction equipment parked in and around their property, so their neighbors didn't get any suspicions," said Beseler.
One neighbor tells Action News she sensed a strong odor from their home and knew something wasn't right.
"If you came outside, you would be bombarded by this smell and I have a 4-year-old son. I wouldn't let him play outside because I would get light-headed," said the neighbor.
Another neighbor says he remembers seeing those trailer beds come in several months ago.
"We thought he had some sort of trucking business or something of that nature," said Mike Thornton. "We didn't know that he had his own grow operation going on."
Police say the suspects are charged with cultivation of marijuana and manufacturing as well. They also say more arrests could be made, and that the investigation is ongoing.
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