Sarasota, Florida- An 84-year-old man is facing drug trafficking charges after Sarasota Sheriff’s investigators say they busted into his home and found 60 marijuana plants as part of an elaborate grow house.
Members of the Special Investigations unit conducted surveillance on the home, after an alert deputy responding to an unrelated call in the neighborhood reported smelling the distinct odor of cannabis coming from the area. The Sheriff’s Office pinpointed the smell coming from a home on Island Date Street and were able to get a search warrant.
SWAT team members responded to the home and made a forced entry after no one came to the door. Inside they found 84-year-old Bernardino Gonzalez, originally from Cuba, hiding in the dining room area of the home. Deputies also say they found potted marijuana plants in various stages of growth inside. “It’s hard to deny when you’re residing in a house that has over 143 pounds of marijuana in it that you didn’t know what was going on,” said Major Kevin Kenney of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.
Gonzalez was booked into the Sarasota County Jail on charges of drug trafficking and maintaining a grow house. Neighbors in the quiet subdivision just north of Bee Ridge Road say they’re shocked. “We knew he was an older man, and to find he participated in something like that, it’s like WOW,” said Dennis and Sharon Reed who live just two doors down. Investigators say they’ve busted more than 40 similar grow houses across the county over the past three years. Many of those homes, they say, seem to have a connection to a possible organized drug ring out of Miami.
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