Police in Miami-Dade County have seized a record $24 million in cash following a drug bust.
The cash was discovered at the home of Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez, 44, who was arrested and charged with a number of drug trafficking offenses, money laundering and possession of a firearm, media reports say.
The cash haul was the largest in the history of the Miami-Dade Police.
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The 44-year-old initially denied there was any money at his home. But officers gained access to a secret compartment in the attic where the cash was concealed in bundles of $100 notes distributed in several 5 gallon buckets. To get there, officers had to lift up some fiberglass insulation.
Hernandez-Gonzalez ran the Blossom Experience store in Miami, which sold products for indoor gardening. The store’s website said it provided customers with “unmatched service and support for their indoor gardening needs,” according to the Miami Herald.
Investigators with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other authorities first became suspicious of Hernandez-Gonzalez when he told an informant how to go about caring for marijuana plants.
The Blossom Experience store listed lamps and fans as products on its website and was associated with the illegal marijuana growing trade.
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Investigations into the activities of Hernandez-Gonzalez began as early as 2010. He was subsequently recorded discussing drugs by telephone with an unidentified individual and linked to drug trafficking operations in Tennessee.
Officers also raided the store, finding $180,000 in a safe and Marijuana seeds and other products.
Hernandez-Gonzalez acknowledged he had frequently explained to customers how to “properly cultivate marijuana,” Miami-Dade Detective Jonathan Santana wrote in the arrest report.
Hernandez-Gonzalez and his sister appeared in court June 29. He was held on a bond of $4 million, according to WTVJ. Salma Hernandez’s bond was set at $12,500 and her attorney indicated that Hernandez expected to be released June 30.
Drug raids frequently net large sums of cash. In April, a DEA task force broke up a drug trafficking ring in Maryland with ties to a Mexican drug cartel. In the process, they seized $2.4 million and 31 kilograms of cocaine.
The DEA arrested four men, who established a trucking company as a front to supply the drugs, according to WJZ.