Drug Bust Worth 1 Million+
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
The operation spanned four properties, two counties, and put four people behind bars. But authorities say they are still looking for the mastermind.
The bust started Wednesday morning and just got bigger as the day went on. When the smoke cleared, a massive pot-growing operation that authorities believe had been going on for three years was shut down.
It was quiet Friday , but the smell of diesel fuel lingers from the garage where three massive generators kept the operation humming along. Although the home is visible off U.S. 27 near Williston, authorities believe a massive marijuana operation went undetected for up to three years.
"This was an operation that was very organized," says Lt. Evan Sullivan with the Levy County Sheriff's Office. "It supplied not just Florida but other states too."
Federal and Levy county drug agents found 917 marijuana plants on the property, most in the large metal shed behind the house. Valued at a thousand dollars each, its nearly a million dollar haul by itself. There they also arrested Francisco Sac and Diego Cha.
Sac led them to another property where the remnants of second indoor growhouse was found. It borders the Alachua County line, and two other properties, all owned, at least in part, by William Erickson, who along with Minerva Quintana was caught at a third growhouse along with more marijuana plants.
"In this neighborhood, we kind of live and let live," says neighbor Peggi Young. "I didn't know those people there."
2521 pounds of pot was found in all, along with 160,000 dollars worth of assets seized related to the operation.
"We expect more arrests and also possibly more seizures," says Lt. Sullivan.
Lieutenant Sullivan says he's not sure why the operation escaped attention for so long, but particularly the second location was ideal, secluded in the woods. The U.S Attorney says John Roger Sager is the mastermind. He's both the owner of the first house, and the part-owner of the second. He's believed to be in the Jupiter area. The other four are in the Alachua County Jail on federal charges.
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