A Cuban national who drug officials said told them he was in charge of a marijuana grow house at a Marion Oaks residence, was arrested at the home.
Modesto Antonio Espinosa-Segredo was charged with marijuana cultivation, trafficking in cannabis over 25 pounds, theft of electricity and possession of a place for manufacturing or trafficking.
He was taken into custody by Marion County Sheriff's Office deputies and members of the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team (UDEST), consisting of local, state and federal authorities, after information was obtained by law enforcement officials about a possible grow house at 16180 SW 59th Ave. Road in Marion Oaks.
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Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team
Once drug agents felt they had enough evidence, they drafted a search warrant and went to the residence on Nov. 29. They were told that it appeared there was a power diversion at the home, which is one of the common elements of a grow house.
Deputies went to various sections of the home and those at the front knocked on the door and announced their presence in Spanish. While knocking, agents said deputies who were at the back, shouted that they heard movements coming from inside the home. Officials said the movement sounded like those inside were trying to escape out the back.
An agent saw the occupants and held them at gunpoint. The occupants, both men, stopped, laid on the ground and remained there until they were handcuffed. Espinosa-Segredo, 24, and another man were detained, officials said.
Where did it come from
Inside, agents said the home had very little furniture and was clean. Agents found a .22-caliber rifle and marijuana plants growing in pots. The marijuana weighed 316 pounds, agents said.
Officials called the operation sophisticated with its grow lights, ballast units, plant food and vitamins.
Authorities said they found the electricity diversion underground, and it was not far from the air conditioning units.
Interviewing Espinosa-Segredo, he told agents that the grow operation was his and he had been renting the home for a few months. He said he paid a man from Miami to come and set up the electrical work for the grow.
The man said he came from Cuba about a year ago and used money he saved to start the operation. Though he told them it was his first grow home, officials do not believe it. He also told officials that the second person was just visiting and had nothing to do with the home. That person was not arrested.
Espinosa-Segredo said the rifle found at the location is used for protection. He said someone had tried to break into the home days earlier.
Agents dismantled the grow house and destroyed the equipment.
Marion County Jail records show Espinosa-Segredo was released a few days after his arrest on $65,000 bond. His next court appearance is in January. An order was made to appoint the Public Defender's Office to represent Espinosa-Segredo.
- Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118, email@example.com or @almillerosb.
This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Man charged with operating marijuana grow house in Marion Oaks