A Florida man busted for weed trafficking and giving grow advice through a now-defunct hydroponics garden supplies shop in Miami has agreed to a plea deal that will allow him to keep a whopping $4 million, his home, the aforementioned store and five Rolex watches.
The Original Arrest
On Wednesday, the 46-year old Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and intentionally structuring bank deposits to avoid the federal government’s reporting requirement, according to NBC 6. As a part of Hernandez-Gonzalez’s plea deal, all drug trafficking charges were dropped.
The local business owner was originally arrested back in June 2016 in what was the largest money seizure in the Miami-Dade Police Department’s history.
“The amount of the currency seized represents one of the largest money seizures ever in this jurisdiction,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle at the time.
According to police, the then-44-year-old Hernandez-Gonzalez, who ran The Blossom Experience in Miami Dade, was in trafficking cannabis to Tennessee with two other men– Miami natives Luis Rego and Pedro Martin. Authorities noted he had been a target of the investigation since 2010 when cops got wind of the operation through a network of informants.
Hernandez-Gonzalez was also recorded in conversation, giving customers and associates advice on how to grow cannabis plants.
“You don’t need to do anything to it,” Hernandez-Gonzalez told Rego back in April of 2016. “You need to keep it … unbothered and cool. A little bit of food.”
Following the probe, officers raided Herandez-Gonzalez’s business and found drugs and $180,000 in a safe. However, the big haul came from Hernandez-Gonzalez’s home, where police found $22 million of suspected marijuana trafficking money in five-gallon Home Depot buckets.
Hernandez-Gonzalez faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, although his defense team believes he will receive somewhere around five, especially considering Miami Dade’s loosened pot laws.
His sentencing date is set for, ironically enough, April 20th.
Final Hit: Florida Man Busted For Weed Trafficking And Giving Grow Advice
While most of Hernandez-Gonzalez’s charges are cut and dry, one of the grey areas in the arrest remains his hydroponics garden supply shop, The Blossom Experience.
According to his lawyer, the shop itself was 100 percent legal.
“My understanding is that he ran a very successful hydroponics supply store, which in of itself is lawful,” said Hernandez-Gonzalez’s attorney, Frank Gaviria.
The shop sold typical (legal) grow items such as fertilizers, indoor lights and watering equipment for indoor gardening, but authorities believed the true intent of the shop was to encourage and facilitate the underground production of cannabis. While inherently legal, there are many similar shops throughout the U.S. that remain in question.
The Blossom Experience website once read that it would provide customers with “unmatched service and support for their indoor gardening needs.” With its owner possibly facing up to 30 years in prison, it’s safe to say that the once-bustling store can no longer live up to its proud mantra.