It seemed like any other house in this suburban neighborhood. Like so many other homes in Miami-Dade area, there was a small front yard, an ample, ranch-style home, and a fair share of gossip surrounding the owners.
Some suspicions were surrounding the house, but they weren’t your normal suspicions. The couple who lived there was rarely seen and when they were, they seemed to be about something very sneaky. It wasn’t until the police were called in the couple’s secrets were finally laid bare…
Suspicions and Whispers
Yes, this Miami was a normal neighborhood all right, and like any normal neighborhood, it had its share of nosey neighbors, sideways whispers, and gossip. There were suspicions flying around, whispers that someone on Southwest 220 St. was up to no good.
Of course, gossip alone isn’t enough for probable cause. The police had a feeling that something illegal was going on, that someone in that neighborhood was engaging in some rather questionable activities, they just couldn’t prove it…
So the police department of southwest Miami-Dade County began to gear up for a raid. They weren’t sure what they would find, but they had narrowed the culprit’s down to one small area of Southwest 220 St. Their first stop was the result of a tip: house number 12485.
As the police officers made their way through the house, they searched for any sign that something might be amiss. On the surface, 12485 Southwest 220 St. seemed like any other house in that neighborhood, a little messy perhaps, but wholly unspectacular. Perhaps they’d received a bad tip?
They went into the master bedroom and looked around. Suddenly, an officer spotted something beneath the baby’s crib. It was a hatch dug into the floor and judging by the way it was covered in carpet and hidden away, there had to be something going on inside of it.
The police made their way down the small flight of steps into a treasure trove of illegal goodies. The normal suburban family had been hiding a small fortune in marijuana beneath their baby’s bed. Dozens of pot plants hung from the ceiling, as were chemicals and other materials used to grow the weed. The jig, it seemed, was up…
Not a Bad Haul
When all was said and done, the police had recovered thirty-one pounds of pot from the underground space. It was about $108,000 worth of the stuff. As the neighbors watched on, gazing at the rich find being brought out of number 12485, the whispers began anew.
Thirty-eight-year-old Yamile Gongar, 38, and her boyfriend Luis Gonzalez, 41, lived just down the street from 12485. They had two girls, aged eight and 17, and were what you anyone would consider a modern family. And just like the people at 12485, they were hiding a secret…
The Gonzalez’s lived just down the street, at 21964 Southwest 125th Ave. They had no idea that their own dirty secret was about to be discovered. The police had received another tip that this family, who lived only houses away, was also hiding something beneath their property.
Though they couldn’t find anything in the home itself, they began looking around the property. It appeared as though the couple had an unused pool in their backyard that was covered up with dirt and grass. But why put an in-ground pool in upside down?
Eventually, the police found their way to a backyard shed, within which was the entrance to an underground lab beneath the faux pool. This one, however, was much more equipped for a large scale operation than the house at 12485. The room was completely full of pot plants and that wasn’t the worst of it.
In addition to the hundreds of pounds of pot being grown in underground hydroponic gardens, the couple had installed an illegal electricity setup. They also had a potent mix of chemicals stacked in the corner, chemicals that could easily have ignited if they were mishandled or if the shoddy, illegal electricity malfunctioned…
As it turned out, the couple had hired a backhoe to come into their backyard and dig out a “pool.” Once that had been done, they put the in-ground pool shell in upside down. Then they covered it with dirt and grass, leaving plenty of room underneath for their hydroponic pot operation.
The elaborate setup included plants hung from walls and a power setup that plugged directly into the home’s power box. This tunnel had been built directly under the backyard and house, so how in the world had the neighbors not known something illegal was happening?
Neighbors told the news station and the police that they had no clue that any such grow houses had been operating just next door to them. The cops, of course, were unconvinced. There would have been obvious signs prior to the discovery. You know, like someone digging a hole for a pool and then not putting in a pool.
“That is a telltale sign,” Miami-Dade Police spokesman Roy Rutland said. “In this case, we’re confident that somebody would have seen them dig that large hole for a pool but never, in fact, install a pool.” Either way, the hydroponic operation at the Gonzalez’s, was an impressive one…
Lots o’ Pots
After raiding the expansive underground hydroponic operation, the police ended up with nearly 30 pot plants, amounting to a whopping 70 pounds of marijuana. All told, it was worth about $250,000. In all, cops hauled in 100 pounds of pot worth more than $350,000.
In the end, the Gonzalez’s children were taken to live with relatives and each of the suspects were held in lieu of a $25,000 bond. Afterwards, the police made a statement to their neighbors on Southwest 220 St. about the lack of cooperation prior to the finds…
According to police, the two nearby grow labs were not actually connected at all. And though there are some who believe that the place is related to two other pot labs that have been busted in the area, there is no proof. If this is indeed true, then all three pot farms are part of a greater conspiracy.
Still, the architecture of both labs seem similar and it appears that the same person has built and constructed these laboratories. The latest grow house was discovered at 583 Southeast 1st Street in Hialeah and was the biggest bust yet. Police found more than 100 pounds of pot worth about $400,000.