On May 1st and 2nd, 2007, members of the HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Task Force seized over 300 marijuana plants and arrested 2 Cuban nationals after investigations led them to two different marijuana grow houses in Lakeland. The value of the plants seized is estimated at $338,000.
Recently, HIDTA Task Force detectives received information about a possible grow house at 216 Kent Road in Lakeland. They responded to the residence on May 1, 2007, and made contact with the man who lives there, Denis Lopez, DOB 11/28/70. Detectives then searched the residence, where they located a sophisticated marijuana grow lab, complete with lights, light ballasts, fans, and 2 additional air conditioning systems and heat pumps. Twenty-seven large marijuana plants were located inside the home. Lopez is renting the home, is of Cuban descent, and is from the Hialeah area. Lopez was booked into the Polk County Jail on charges of Cultivation of Cannabis, Maintaining a Dwelling for Drug Use, and Trafficking in Cannabis. On May 2, 2007, detectives received information about a possible grow house at 5114 East Fairfax Drive in Lakeland. Detectives arrived at the house, and awaited the arrival of a homeowner.
Around 10:50 p.m., Rigoberto Ruiz, DOB 8/1/66, showed up. Ruiz told detectives he lives at 3942 Pelican Court in Lakeland but he does own the East Fairfax Drive home. Detectives searched the residence, and located a sophisticated multi-room marijuana grow lab, 311 marijuana plants, and evidence of already-harvested 200-300 additional plants. Detectives also seized $6,980 in U.S. currency, proceeds from marijuana sales. Ruiz is also a Cuban national, and is from the Miami area. Ruiz was booked into the Polk County Jail on charges of Cultivation of Cannabis, Maintaining a Dwelling for Drug Use, and Trafficking in Cannabis.
These arrests come six weeks after a similar investigation. On March 19, 2007, members of the HIDTA Task Force located a grow house at 2948 Ewell Road in Lakeland, seized 542 marijuana plants, and arrested five Cuban nationals from South Florida as part of that investigation.