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Growth Industry: Cops Bust Third Palm Coast Pot Grow House in 9 Months, on Wheatfield

| November 27, 2012

15 Wheatfield Drive this afternoon. (© FlaglerLive)

It’s a cookie-cutter house like so many others in Palm Coast: one level, about 1,900 square feet, built in the earlier part of the last decade. Like most houses on Wheatfield Drive in Palm Coast, parallel to Whiteview Parkway, its lawn is neatly (and freshly) trimmed, its wooden fence blocking off the backyard well maintained, a large garbage can, stenciled with the number 15, sits next to a shrub out front. The only thing distinctive about the house is its old-fashioned analog television antenna rising from just behind the wooden fence. The house is owned by a woman in New Jersey.

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Tuesday, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Unit and the Florida Department Law Enforcement revealed that the property has been used as a marijuana-growing house, the third such grow house busted in Palm Coast in the last nine months.

Authorities arrested Jorge Rodriguez, 61, and charged him with marijuana cultivation. He faces stiffer felony penalties because there were more than 25 plants in the house. Rodriguez, a native of Puerto Rico, was arrested Monday afternoon at the house.

Initially, the Sheriff’s Office reported, Rodriguez claimed to be 51-year-old Jose Soto. After being fingerprinted in the Flagler County Inmate Facility, jail deputies discovered his true identity. He remains in the custody at the jail on $10,000.00 bond. The Federal Immigration Customs Enforcement agency also placed a hold on him, though as a native of Puerto Rico, he would presumably have American citizenship.

Detectives got an anonymous complaint that the house was being used to grow marijuana, and launched their investigation, serving a search warrant Monday. Detectives discovered two active grow rooms in the house, containing a total of 48 plants. According to the sheriff’s office, the plants, at full potential, can produce up to 96 pounds of marijuana for sale and distribution each year, yielding a street value of $86,400. Deputies dismantled the grow equipment from the residence and removed the plants. More charges are pending.

In February, the Sheriff’s Office busted a marijuana-grow house at 20 Princeton Lane in Palm Coast, where the plant count was cleverly kept at 24, one short of triggering the stiffer penalties. Louis Urra was arrested and charged with growing marijuana, but was able to reduce a felony charge to a “pre-trial intervention” contract, essentially deferring prosecution in exchange for supervision, and the payment of court and prosecution costs ($450).

In June, Kevin Fitzgerald was turned in by his wife upon her discovery that he’d been growing pot at 111 Birchwood Drive, where cops discovered an elaborate grow house with a ventilation system. He pleaded no contest to the marijuana growing charge and also got a deferred prosecution deal. His wife filed for divorce in October.

Earlier this month, Washington State and Oregon legalized the use and sale of recreational marijuana, becoming the first two states to do so in the country, while Massachusetts became the 18th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The medical marijuana allowance is a thin fig leaf for the the way the laws have been used, in practice–for recreational use of marijuana. Federal laws prohibiting the growing or smoking of marijuana trump local laws, however. But federal laws have not been enforced as rigorously as in the past, and in some states, such as California, marijuana is grown and smoked with growing freedom.

The drug is far less dangerous or lethal than alcohol or cigarettes: while some 80,000 deaths a year are attributed to alcohol, and 400,000 deaths a year are attributed to tobacco (in the United States), no deaths have been attributed to marijuana–not even through side effects such as cancer or heart disease.

Nevertheless, around percent of state or federal prisoners were serving time on marijuana charges in 2004, the last year for which comprehensive data were available.

Florida maintains some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. This year, Rep. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, introduced a proposal in the Florida House to let voters decide whether to legalize medical marijuana through a constitutional amendment. Larcenia J. Bullard, the Miami Democrat, introduced a companion measure in the Senate. The Legislature never took up the proposal.

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28 Responses for “Growth Industry: Cops Bust Third Palm Coast Pot Grow House in 9 Months, on Wheatfield”

  1. Angela Smith says:

    @Jessica Diaz: You probably DO live next door to “pot heads”, and just don’t know it! As to “get friggen real jobs”; when was the last time you had to look for work in Flagler County? Oh, and BTW, no one has EVER died from an overdose of marijuana; the same cannot be said for alcohol or any of the other “legal” drugs.


  2. confidential says:

    This is one of many tragically sad outcomes generated by drugs consumption in our country:

    If alcohol is legal why not the weeds? Just legalize it and let it be cultivated and commercialize and generate revenue here, ending the wars and massacres south of the border. Legislate stronger punishment for driving under the influence and/or commit crimes under the influence and against provide it to minors. Lets start the same anti-drug pernicious health consequences and anti-drug on the job or hiring campaign as is done now with smoking…and the drugs use will subside…just like happened with smokers in this last decade..We will save billions in foreign wasted funds to combat drug lords with no success and instead can invest here on drug rehabs and education of our own. Just my personal view..


  3. glad fly says:

    @ geezer….that’s irresponsible thinking. the whole country stoned…let’s not go there. our country has enough problems already. if you want to hit the bong and stayed stoned that’s cool but please don’t get out on the road and drive.. do not wish this on the rest of the country..yes we have alcohol and it’s responsible for more divorces and broken homes and ruined lives than i care to know about.


    • Geezer says:

      Say “pretty please with sugar on top.”


    • Ben Dover says:

      @glad , its responsible for a lot more then divorce , how bout wives getting their teeth knocked out cause hubby is drunk , or families killed in car accidents, I don t smoke pot now , but when I did and I drove , I drove slower , didn t get annoyed at idiots on the road, and paid much more attention to my surroundings, In school I wrote my best compositions while I was high , pot does not alter your abilities like alcohol does , it also helps people with cancer , helps people with glaucoma, like someone said above, calling it a drug is just stupid , its a natural herb , God created it, it does not make you violent , or black out , you don t have withdrawals like when you try and stop smoking cigarettes and alcohol, try it sometime , you`ve obviously been brain washed about its affects, I take 1000 high drivers on the road, than 1 drunk


  4. rthomp11 says:

    Oh NO say it isn’t so!!! Not in Paradise Palm Coast!? And here I thought all the drugs are suppose to be in Mondex.


  5. Magicone says:

    All these comments made on marijuana and not one person mentioned that it DOES have medicinal value. There are several states that have legalized it for “medicinal use”. There are 2 states that have legalized it for “recreational” use. But in the state of Florida you can still go to jail for having a joint of this stuff. Alcohol and tobacco are killing lots of people 24/7 every day of the year, and have been for decades. The Federal Government had a prohibition on alcohol,. then they realized that if they could tax it and bankroll their spending. Tobacco is taxed very heavily, the only reason that they can’t tax marijuana is because it grows everywhere. If the Federal government could figure out a way to tax marijuana it would be legal tomorrow, and we wouldn’t have to worry about this Fiscal Cliff that we are headed for. This is another item that the Federal government can’t decide where to stand like abortion, Gay marriage, immigration, gun control etc. What is the Flagler county sheriffs department doing with all the marijuana they are confiscating? Burning it?? Rolled like it was meant to or in a pile to destroy it…..???? They should be selling it to a state that will resell it to their citizens. Might take care of some of the bills around here like storm water and water and sewer. There is a 41/2 foot plant with nice buds growing in the storm water ditch behind my house, I’m sure someone will harvest it before the city cuts the ditch.


  6. Legal Eyez says:

    Let it grow like the plant is supposed to. Seems proposterous to ban a plant that has such potential.


  7. Deep South says:

    Theirs got to be laws that owners of homes, and real estate companies are required to do a background check on renters prior to them allowing them to moving in. I put just as much blame on the woman from New Jersey for having these drug dealers living in her house. I wonder if she did do a background check. I doubt it.


  8. Anonymous says:

    install smart meters–find grow houses…..


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