Miami has often been referred to as the city of vice.
With its scandalous reputation and salacious party culture, you can find just about anything in the sultry city. However, when police officers received a tip about a specific location in Miami, they had no idea what they were in store for…
This story climaxed back in June 0f 2016, when police broke through the secret attic room of a Miami Lake house and were shocked at what they found inside. Police tore through the attic thresh hold…but that isn’t where this story starts.
This story ACTUALLY begins back in 2010. You see, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) caught wind of some illegal activity going on in the home of North Miami businessman Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez. His gardening supply store, The Blossom Experience, sounded innocent enough, but was it?
More Than Meets The Eye
Of course, it wasn’t! Investigators had an idea they would uncover something hidden and dirty, but they didn’t realize just how far this web reached. After failing to figure out the hidden operation in 2010, it took officials another 6 years to gain a lead that actually went anywhere.
When the DEA finally arrived on the premises in June 2016, officers discovered a whopping $180,000 in cash and two strains of marijuana marked “Chernobyl” and “Super Skunk.” There was a sizable amount hidden in a safe, but this is in fact, only the tip of the iceberg.
Uncovered In Paradise
Authorities knew Hernandez-Gonzalez was linked to this crime. He admitted to illegal activity and police arrested him in his Miami Beach home. It was lavish to say the least.
Hernandez-Gonzalez had lived there for at least ten years. He originally bought only the land and built upon the property. Operating in such a way allowed him to make expansions all his own… rather intriguing expansions, we must admit.
Behind The Walls
So when the DEA arrived at the house on that fateful June day in 2016, they discovered an odd secret in the attic. The hidden space was likely incorporated from the beginning, slowly being built into the original plans. But whatever its origin, the room was hidden behind a trapdoor and concealed by a sheet of fiberglass insulation.
Upon looking further, investigators also discovered something else…
Through The Door
What lay there was a hidden trap door concealed by a sheet of fiberglass. and when they went through the door…well, it wasn’t Narnia that they found back there. It was so much more.
Yes, once investigators successfully gained access to the tiny room, all was revealed. They discovered bottles of steroids, a loaded gun, and 24 heat-sealed containers, all of which cotained hundreds of thousands of dollars. In total, a whopping $24 million in cash was unearthed.
The Plot Thickens
The amount astonished the officers, professionals who routinely uncover massive sums of money. Meanwhile, Hernandez-Gonzalez was apprehended, as was his sister Salma Hernandez, who also worked at Blossom Experience. But more than just this was going on at the Blossom Experience.
Meanwhile, A Thousand Miles Away…
The two had an interesting form of sibling bonding. They frequently taught other criminals how to grow marijuana and run an operation just like theirs. Interestingly, as the DEA had a file on Hernandez-Gonzalez, a second case opened in Tennessee, one that was oddly similar to the first in Miami.
Learning A New Trade
Still, the first tip-off that Hernandez-Gonzalez was worth watching came from a DEA informant. The CI had, it seemed, managed to elicit a conversation from the soon-to-be-suspect about the intricacies of the marijuana industry.
Don’t Kick The Bucket
Another informant, meanwhile, twice sold Hernandez-Gonzalez marijuana. So what was Hernandez-Gonzalez’s deal? Reportedly, the store owner sold gardening equipment to certain customers at low prices. Then he would buy large amounts of marijuana from those customers and sell it on, presumably in smaller quantities, to make some hefty profits.
A Shocking Twist
However, despite everything the informants had told the DEA, agents could never build a concrete case with enough evidence to arrest Hernandez-Gonzalez. As a result, the investigation was, eventually, all but dropped.
In fact, years passed with no more mention of Hernandez-Gonzalez or Blossom Experience. But then, earlier in 2016, his name suddenly popped up again. And it was all thanks to the aforementioned Tennessee case.
And This Time…
The subsequent investigation into the case led to multiple arrests in June 2016, when officers also seized cash worth at least $140,000, multiple firearms and 300 marijuana plants. Interestingly enough, the convicts all shared one thing in common: ties to Miami.
Drugs, Guns, And Lies
What’s more, during this investigation the DEA had wiretapped the home of the group operating in Tennessee. One of the calls recorded was between local ringleader Luis Rego and (you’ll never guess who) Hernandez-Gonzalez, with the latter advising the former on marijuana plant care.
Suddenly, Hernandez-Gonzalez’s case was blown wide open, and the DEA had all the evidence it needed to secure the search warrant for his business and home. The rest, as they say, is history.
A Hefty Sum
The main suspects, Hernandez-Gonzalez and his sister, are currently being held on bail. Moreover, the bond posted by the judge overseeing their case was listed at $4 million. That’s a hefty sum, but it’s one befitting a man who, according to prosecutor Adam Korn, had “$20 million in his walls.” The $24M drug bust was the largest money seizure in Miami-Dade police history
In July 2016 Hernandez-Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to the charges levied against him. However, the case – possibly the largest of its kind in American history – is still ongoing. And yet whatever the outcome, the staggering amount of money alone means that it won’t be an incident soon forgotten.