Marijuana grow house condemned

By John Turchin, Crime Specialist, jturchin@local10.com
Published On: Sep 24 2012 06:47:50 PM EDT
Updated On: Sep 25 2012 10:49:30 AM EDT

Inspectors from the Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources condemn the property where a marijuana grow house exploded on Saturday.

KENDALL, Fla. -

Inspectors from the Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources condemned the property where a marijuana grow house exploded on Saturday.

"Well, I'm going to put the unsafe sign there so nobody should be on the property," said one of the inspectors.

According to investigators, pressure from the explosion caused the walls to expand and the roof to lift off and fall back down at the house on Southwest 151st Place. No one was injured.

Pictures showed where the roof had collapsed and drywall had blown apart.

Inside the house, police found a hydroponics lab. The people living at the home were gone by the time police arrived.

"It was a husband and wife, two children, I think a 4 year old and a 3 month old or 4 month old," said Orlando Martinez, a neighbor.

Martinez, whose back yard borders the home, said he never knew what was going on inside it.

"These people were never visible, never heard, extremely quiet," said Martinez.

Grow houses have been popping up throughout South Florida, something Miami-Dade Lt. Rick Damaso, who heads a narcotics unit, knows too well.

"We have no idea what we're getting into when we walk into these places," said Damaso. "You have a deadly combination of easy money, narcotics, the greed."

The illegal nurseries are hidden everywhere, from multi-million dollar homes to rundown apartments, putting unsuspecting neighbors and police officers in serious danger.

"There's been people on the job that have been hurt, been shot at. People have actually been electrocuted," an undercover narcotics officer, a 12-year veteran, told Local 10 Crime Specialist John Turchin. "Basically, they like to blend into the neighborhood. It's a normal house, in a normal neighborhood, and a normal family. They try to do that to disguise what they're doing indoors. They're getting a little smarter so we have got to get a little smarter as far as law enforcement and trying to track them down."

Detectives are trying to track down the family living in the home. The landord, Marsha Hernandez, told police she rented the house to the couple a year and a half ago.

The landlord's attorney, Danny Espinosa, told Local 10 the husband paid his rent on time.

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