DRUG TRAFFICKING AND MARIJUANA GROW HOUSES
When it comes to the proliferation of marijuana “grow houses” in the United States, Florida, and specifically South Florida, is among the nation’s leaders. The advantages of hydroponic growing methods, which use little or no soil and simulated sunshine provided by high-intensity lamps, have turned seemingly picturesque family neighborhoods into cannabis conclaves all across the United States.
Add to the mix the escalated availability of inexpensive, abandoned or vacant residential properties in Florida brought on by the real estate bust and recession, and the problems of marijuana grow house have grown exponentially in recent years. With the growth, has come enforcement, which often targets innocent property owners and landlords.
The Miami drug defense attorneys at Barzee Flores have extensive knowledge of the grow-house industry and the legal resources and experience to defend anyone charged in Florida with:
- Marijuana cultivation
- Drug trafficking
- Selling marijuana
- Possession of marijuana with intent to sell
- Possession of marijuana, heroine, Oxycodone, ecstasy and other drugs
Whether you are facing state or federal drug charges, our firm has a track record of aggressively defending the rights of those facing drug charges in connection with marijuana growing operations.
According to statistics within the 2007 Indoor Grow Report, a publication produced jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, (DEA), and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, (FDLE), indoor marijuana growing operations are increasingly becoming much more complex and sophisticated. Grow operations use high-tech methods, materials and watering systems to maximize the annual cultivation process to as much as four times per year. For 2007, 45 of Florida’s 67 counties reported the discovery and destruction of 944 indoor pot-growing operations, which resulted in the eradication of just under 75,000 marijuana plants. The report also states that some operations involved a very small number of plants and little organized efforts, while others, like one dismantled in Miami- Dade County, contained as many as 850 plants.
Miami-Dade tops the statewide list for the total number of eradicated marijuana plants, with a reported 26, 091 being destroyed during 2007. This represents a 65% increase over the 2006 number. Those grow-house busts also resulted in the arrest of 374 individuals, and the seizure of 34 firearms.
Those arrested for operating a grow house operation will almost always be facing additional charges, such as:
- Illegal firearm possession
- Drug trafficking charges
- Drug possession
- Intent to sell or distribute
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
In a twist brought on by the real estate market crash in Florida, many of those arrested for grow house involvement also have obtained access to the operation’s property or structure through fraudulent or unlawful means, sometimes resulting in additional charges of mortgage fraud. The growers in those cases were discovered to have used false representations on fraudulent mortgage applications in order to procure under-valued residential properties to use as grow houses.
In still other cases, innocent homeowners, or homeowners who have lost a home to foreclosure, as well as landlords or property managers, are facing drug charges in connection with grow houses. In many cases, they are not involved and had nothing to do with the alleged crimes, yet still find themselves facing serious drug charges.
In 2008, Florida enacted harsher laws designed to level more severe penalties for those found guilty of operating a grow house, and lessen the threshold under which those penalties could be applied. Previously, 300 was the number of plants necessary in order to prove the growers had intended to sell the marijuana, a second-degree felony offense. As of July 1 2008, under the new Grow House Eradication Act, that number was reduced to 25 plants, and carries a maximum 15-year jail sentence. It also made it a first-degree felony offense if the grow house was home to a child, and allows law enforcement to bring charges against a homeowner or landlord who knowingly own houses being used to grow marijuana, even if they do not reside at the premises.
The new law also allows for video or photographic evidence of grow house operations to be admissible in court, which enables law enforcement officials to destroy the seized evidence rather than storing it for presentation at trial.
Hiring a qualified and experienced Miami criminal defense attorney is critical to protecting your rights in the wake of drug charges stemming from a marijuana grow house or growing operations. There are often cases in which the methods used by law enforcement officials to discover the grow house come into question, known as “probable cause.” A violation of the suspected grow house operator’s Fourth Amendment rights, which pertain to unreasonable or unlawful search and seizure, may have occurred if the law enforcement agency’s tactics and procedures were not followed to the letter of the law. A skilled drug defense lawyer who is intimately familiar with these laws may be able to reduce or even dismiss the charges by arguing that any evidence obtained under such conditions should be suppressed prior to trial.
In Florida, and particularly in Miami Dade County, you may be able to substantially reduce or even eliminate some of the penalties related to a drug arrest. The 11th Judicial Court of Florida was the first in the country to establish a Drug Court, in 1989. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be eligible to enter the Drug Court’s diversion and rehabilitative treatment programs, and get on with your life in a positive and constructive manner.
A veteran defense firm with the legal and financial resources necessary to aggressively defend you rights can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case, as well as your reputation, freedom and future financial well-being.
An arrest for any crime can be a frightening and sobering experience. The Miami criminal defense attorneys at Barzee Flores know what it takes to build a defense capable of winning the best outcome possible for you and your case.
Don’t let a drug offense arrest destroy your life. Call Barzee Flores today at 305-374-3998, and allow us to aggressively defend your legal rights under the law.
Florida Marijuana Laws
- Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana: First-Degree Misdemeanor, up to 1 Year in jail
- Trafficking in Marijuana, more than 25 pounds: First-Degree Felony, up to 30 Years in prison
- Sale of Marijuana to a Minor: Second-Degree Felony, up to 15 Years in prison
- Possession of More than 20 Grams of Marijuana: Third-Degree Felony, up to 5 Years in prison
- The Sale, Manufacture or Delivery of Marijuana within 1,000 Ffacility, Park or Church: Second-Degree Felony, up to 15 Years in prison