Two siblings are facing multiple drugs charges after police in Miami seized a record $24 million (£18m) in a narcotics raid.
Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez stashed bundles of $100 (£75) bills inside five-gallon buckets hidden in a secret compartment in his plush home, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) say.
The 44-year-old and his sister Salma Hernandez are accused of using their gardening business ‘The Blossom Experience’, which sells equipment for indoor gardening, to cover-up a major marijuana growing operation.
Miami-Dade detectives confirmed it was the largest cash seizure in the department’s history after acting on information received from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The secret entrance
“Acting on information received from the DEA … MDPD Narcotics detectives obtained a search warrant for the business of Hernandez-Gonzalez,” the department said in statement.
“Once inside the business, they discovered a safe with large sums of money. The investigation then led detectives to the residence of Hernandez-Gonzalez.
“A secondary search warrant was executed at the residence where detectives discovered sealed packages of money stored in buckets concealed within the walls. A high powered automatic weapon along with several packages of steroids were also found.”
Mr Hernandez-Gonzalez has been charged with money laundering, cannabis trafficking, conspire to traffic cannabis, unlawful use of communication, possession of cannabis, weapon/possession while committing an offence and possession of place/purpose of trafficking.
His sister has been charged with possession of place/purpose of trafficking (marijuana), possession of place/purpose of trafficking/conspiracy (marijuana).
“The amount of the currency seized represents one of the largest money seizures ever in this jurisdiction,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Hernandez-Gonzalez is being held on a $4m (£3m) bond. His sister is being held on $12,500 (£9,400) bail.
Miami-Dade prosecutor Adam Korn said: “For a man with $20million (£15m) in his walls, an elevated bond is clearly necessary.”
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, illegal drugs are placed into one of 3 classes – A, B or C. This is broadly based on the harms they cause either to the user or to society when they are misused.