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During A Drug Bust, Miami Police Find Some $20 Million Stuffed In Buckets

Police found these 24 buckets inside a secret room in a Miami house.
Miami-Dade Police Department
Police found these 24 buckets inside a secret room in a Miami house.

Take a look at this:

Now take a look at what was inside:

Indeed, those are packets of $100 bills in heat-sealed compressed bags.
/ Miami-Dade Police Department
/
Miami-Dade Police Department
Indeed, those are packets of $100 bills in heat-sealed compressed bags.
Police are still counting the money.
/ Miami-Dade Police Department
/
Miami-Dade Police Department
Police are still counting the money.

That's what the Miami-Dade Police Department found in the home of Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez, a Miami man who owns a store that sells equipment for indoor gardening.

Police are still counting the money but they know it's about $20 million, making it the largest cash seizure in Miami-Dade Police Department history.

According an arrest affidavit, police searched Hernandez-Gonzalez's home after confidential informants tied him to the drug trade. According to the affidavit, investigators wire-tapped Hernandez-Gonzalez's phone and heard him hand out advice on how to keep pot plants healthy.

During one conversation, an alleged client describes sad-looking plants that are not responding to extra oxygenation. Hernandez-Gonzalez asks for a picture and tells the person that they have to be patient. Giving a plant extra oxygen after weeks of neglect is like giving "a starving old man ... testosterone," Hernandez-Gonzalez says.

Police eventually contacted Hernandez-Gonzalez and he was cooperative telling them that he could draw up a list of clients who he believes grew marijuana indoors. They searched his shop and found bundles of money and police allege that Hernandez-Gonzalez voluntarily let them search his home.

Police dogs led them to more bundles of money. Police say they found pot seeds and steroids and a loaded Tec-9 with an extended clip.

Through the attic floor, they detected a hidden room:

This is what police saw through attic.
/ Miami-Dade Police Department
/
Miami-Dade Police Department
This is what police saw through attic.

The secret room was on the other side of this wall:

Behind this wall was a secret room.
/ Miami-Dade Police Department
/
Miami-Dade Police Department
Behind this wall was a secret room.

Detectives cut through and found 24 5-gallon buckets full of cash.

There they are.
/ Miami-Dade Police Department
/
Miami-Dade Police Department
There they are.

Hernandez-Gonzalez was arrested and charged with money laundering, cannabis trafficking and other charges. His sister was also charged.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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