Judge Rules Children In Alleged Pot House Can Stay With Parents
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South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A judge at the Juvenile Justice Center has ruled that two children who were found inside an alleged marijuana grow house during a raid this week could stay with their parents.
An attorney for the Department of Children and Families filed a petition asking that the 8-year-old and 17-year-old girls be temporarily sheltered with the state.
“Twenty three marijuana plants were found in that home,” said DCF attorney Janice Merilus. “The department is concerned about the risk of abuse.”
Merlius made her comments to Judge Alan Fine as the parents, Luis Ramirez-Gonzalez and Yamile Gongar, listened. They had been arrested earlier this week for trafficking in marijuana after police raided their home.
They were able to attend the hearing because they had posted bond.
Attorney John Faulconer said, “The parents records show that no drugs were being sold out of the home.”
Judge Fine ruled that the children could stay with their parents because it was discovered that the alleged pot house had been condemned and that the parents were living elsewhere. Ramirez-Gonzalez and Gongar left court with their children but declined to speak to CBS4’s Peter D’Oench on the way out.
Ramirez-Gonzalez is the father of the eight-year-old girl, who is in the first grade. It was discovered in court that the father of the 17-year-old girl would not be at the hearing. She is a junior in high school.
Miami-Dade Police say more arrests are expected after they found a third underground marijuana growing operation in two days.
The latest discovery came Tuesday night at a home at 583 SE 1st Street in Hialeah. Police seized 100 pounds of marijuana from a hydroponics lab set up in a covered over backyard in-ground pool. The entrance to the underground lab was located inside the master bedroom of the residence, underneath a nightstand & carpeting.
Two men were arrested; one was identified as 47-year old Alfredo Arcaya-Gonzalez.
“It’s crazy, my kids play outside, my dad’s always outside on this side. It’s just crazy,” said Enaisy Boada.
Neighbors CBS4 spoke with had no idea a pot lab was nearby but they hope any others will be found soon.
“They need to work on stopping these people, especially in these types of neighborhoods. There are families. If something blows up a lot of families are going to go, innocent people,” said Darlene Davila.
Police say they aren’t done yet.
“There may be more arrests in the future, we have not finished our investigation,” said Miami-Dade narcotics Lt. Jose Gonzalez.
This Hialeah discovery came just hours after Miami-Dade police discovered similar operations at two separate homes in southwest Miami-Dade. In those investigations, two men and two women were arrested.
“Underground grow houses are not common at all,” said Gonzalez. “Our bureau maybe does one or two a year, so to find three in a 24 hour period is rare.”
“We know that some of these men are related from earlier. We will continue piecing this puzzle together,” said Miami-Dade police Det. Roy Rutland as he stood before a home the 12485 SW 220 Street where police seized 31 lbs. of pot worth about $108,000.
A man and woman were arrested. Police have not said if they owned the home or were renting.
“Wow, wow. That’s incredible. I’m shocked,” said neighbor Althea Martin.
Investigators say the elaborate set-up was completely concealed from view.
“This is unique in a really tragic way. This is unique where the entrance to the lab is actually in the master bedroom and the entrance is actually underneath a baby’s crib,” said Rutland.
“That’s sad. That’s sad. That means they didn’t care a thing about their child,” said Martin.
The discovery came just a day after another secret lab containing more than 20 pot plants was found a few homes away at 21964 SW 125 Avenue. The pot lab was in an in-ground pool covered by a concrete slab with an above-ground swimming pool sitting on top of it.
Police arrested the home’s owner, 41-year old Luis Ramirez Gonzalez, and 38-year old Yamile Gongar who lived there.
“It’s just crazy that I pass by it all the time. I really don’t see anything suspicious or anything like that. Crazy that it’s here, literally in my neighborhood,” said Christopher Santamaria, a neighbor.
In January police seized 80 plants from another underground pool which had been covered over by a concrete slab. The pool was behind a home about 10 miles from the Ramirez Gonzalez home.
Police say not only were the some of the men were related, the design and structure of the pool labs were identical. Police suspect the same person built all three and there may be more out there. They have not said if the so-called architect of the pool labs has been taken into custody.
Based on information provided by police an estimated 201 pounds of marijuana, with a street value of $703,000, has been seized over the two day period.
While all six suspects will face narcotics charges, investigators said this is about more than just drugs.
“This is a story about people that are housing toxic combustible chemicals underground,” Rutland explained. “You need to understand that these chemicals combined can take down several homes. We’ve already seen that here in Miami-Dade County.”
There is one final note. All three of the suspects’ homes had Christmas lights on them. Police say it’s not known if that was a signal about drugsor if that was just coincidental.