Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez of Miami, Florida was arrested and faces marijuana trafficking, money laundering, and other state charges after Miami-Dade police reportedly found $24 million hidden in his walls in what is being called the “largest single cash seizure” in the county’s history. Due to the large sums of cash found in his home, a judge ordered Hernandez-Gonzalez be held in lieu of a $4 million bond. The judge also stipulated that he can only post bail with “clean” money.
Hernandez-Gonzalez, 44, is the owner of Blossom Experience, a legitimate North Miami-Dade business that sells equipment for indoor gardening on Northwest 54th Street. Police claim the business mainly catered to Miami’s thriving home-grown marijuana industry.
According to the arrest report, Miami-Dade detectives and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents targeted Hernandez-Gonzalez because of information gathered over the past six years from confidential informants. However, they were never able to find enough evidence to have him arrested until now.
The DEA first took notice of Hernandez-Gonzalez in 2010, when he allegedly discussed the mechanics of the marijuana trade with an informant. One of these informants reportedly said Hernandez-Gonzalez sold his gardening equipment cheaply to undercut his competitors, then bought high-grade marijuana from his gardening customers and sold it for high profits. This informant also allegedly sold over 100 pounds of marijuana to Hernandez-Gonzalez on two different occasions.
The raid of Hernandez-Gonzalez’ upscale Miami Lakes home was the result of a separate investigation conducted in Tennessee that led to the arrest of 11 men with ties to Miami. Federal wiretaps taken during that investigation purportedly recorded Hernandez-Gonzalez offering one of the men advice on how to care for sick marijuana plants. Court documents also show that Hernandez-Gonzalez received text-message pictures of afflicted marijuana plants from those men.
With this evidence, narcotics agents were able to obtain a search warrant to raid Blossom Experience, where they reportedly found marijuana seeds and plants along with $180,000 in cash in the store’s safe. Hernandez-Gonzalez’s home was raided next and police unearthed what is estimated to be $24 million in cash stashed in two dozen 5-gallon buckets. The buckets contained neatly sealed $100 bills and were hidden in a secret room that could only be accessed through the attic. Police also reportedly found several vials of steroids and a loaded pistol.
After all the money was painstakingly counted at the police department, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the Miami-Dade State Attorney who will prosecute the case, told the press that the total amount represented one of the largest money seizures in her jurisdiction. Miami-Dade police are expected to take ownership of the money and the Miami Lakes home using civil forfeiture laws.