Florida couple charged in marijuana grow house operation - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Florida couple charged in marijuana grow house operation

By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

LOWNDES COUNTY, GA (WALB) –A Florida man and woman are now charged in that multi-million dollar indoor pot growing operation in Lowndes County.

After the elaborate grow house on Howell Road was found Friday, deputies staked it out and when the couple showed up Monday to check on their marijuana, they were arrested.

46-year-old Gilberto Martinez and 44-year-old Carol Fernandez of Coral Gables are charged with trafficking and manufacturing marijuana.

Investigators say they are behind the multi-million dollar indoor pot growing operation at this house on Howell Road.

People who live near there are shocked.

 "We always felt safe now since this has happened we don't know how safe we might be," said Linda Martin.

Rodney Thomas was on his way home from work Friday.

"I saw the sheriff's deputies with the four-wheelers and trailers and things headed into the property so I kind of guessed it was going to be something drug-related," said Thomas.

"It's a nice country town and you might think in bigger counties they may have something like that but not in Valdosta," said Martin.

Investigators are still processing the scene and more arrests are expected to be made. The sheriff says this is the largest grow house south of Atlanta."

They found wells, transformers, pots filled with pellets, fans, wired walls and ceilings. A flock of noisy geese stood guard over it all, to honk if anyone approached the property.

Nearly 900 hydroponic plants were found inside, worth more than $2 million and capable of producing $10 million of pot over the last year.

Monday night Fernandez and Martinez pulled into the property to tend the plants. Little did they know the house was being watched and they were arrested on the spot.

Gilberto Martinez's company MLR Investment Group owns that house.


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