Officials raid grow house in Chiefland

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One man flees, another arrested

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

A tip to the Levy County Sheriff’s Office resulted in officers raiding an indoor pot growing operation south of Chiefland shortly before midnight Tuesday night with 62 full grown potted marijuana plants.

One man was arrested, but officers are seeking a second man who jumped through the window of the home and fled wearing only a pair of shorts through a prickly pear patch. Officers said Jesus Lopez was not wearing a short or shoes at the time he escaped.

Lopez is described as 25 years old, 5 feet 7 inches, 150 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes, and wearing only khaki shorts.

Capt. Evan Sullivan, sheriff’s office spokesman, said Hernandez and Lopez are illegal immigrants from Cuba. He said Hernandez was arrested on pot-growing charges in Fort Lauderdale in 2004.

Alionay Hernandez, 34, is charged with maintaining a drug dwelling, cultivation of marijuana, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Capt. Evan Sullivan, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office said the value of the plants is $62,000 and with the associated items, the value of the operation is $100,000.

Sullivan said the operation, housed in a building behind a home at 5550 N.W. 90th Avenue, about 8 miles south of Chiefland, was about five months old.

This was not a hydroponic operation like a large underground bunker the task force broke up earlier this year, but the grow house was using power diverted from Central Florida Electric Cooperative and had wiring to supply the air conditioner, fans, humidifiers and lights that had the plants growing under optimum conditions.

Ronnie Emmons of Central Florida Electric Cooperative helped deputies with dismantling the operation which used power diverted from the power meter.

Sullivan said if a person suspects someone of stealing power or of having an indoor pot-growing operation, they can report it to the sheriff’s office at 352-486-5111 or if they wish to remain anonymous, they can call the CrimeStoppers line at 1-877-349-8477.