Cubans arrested in big pot bust near Waycross

KINGSLAND, Ga. — A raid on a Ware County home has led to the seizure of more than 140 marijuana plants and the arrest of five Cuban nationals.


Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal said Monday’s raid was the culmination of a month-long investigation with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

Royal said the high-quality marijuana grown in a 3,600 square-foot home at the 6500 block of Douglas Avenue was so potent a field test indicated the THC-level was “off the charts.”

Investigators believe marijuana was grown in six different rooms in the house for more than one year. Royal estimated 20 to 25 pounds of the drug was grown each month, generating as much as $120,000 in illegal revenues.

Detective Richard Seeley, of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit said it was one of the largest marijuana growing operations he has ever seen.

As the plants reached a certain level of growth, they were moved into other rooms until they reached maturity. Royal said investigators found old carbon dioxide canisters they believe were used to speed up the growing process.

After the plants were harvested, they were taken to Jacksonville where investigators said the drugs were transported both north and south on Interstate 95.

The investigation began in Jacksonville, by deputies with the Organized Crime Narcotics Unit. Once investigators realized the marijuana was grown in Ware County, Royal said his deputies were contacted and began surveillance at the home.

The suspects apparently diverted power from Satilla Rural Electric Membership Corporation power lines and used the stolen energy to operate 1,000-watt grow lights, fans, cooling systems and hydroponic equipment, according to the report released by the Sheriff’s Office.

Arrested after the house was raided Monday were Chrisnel Montenegro Gonzalez, 26, of Jacksonville and Yoenky Morffi Diaz, 26, of Millwood. Later Monday, detectives arrested David Alxarez Lazo, 33, of Jacksonville, who was identified as one of the owners of the house.

On Tuesday morning, deputies who staked out the house arrested Arairis Martinez, 33, who is listed as one of the house’s owners, and Feilipe DeJesus Novoa, 49, of Jacksonville.

The five men are charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, trafficking in marijuana and theft of power from Satilla REMC. They are held in the Ware County Jail awaiting a bail hearing.,

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