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22 suspected marijuana traffickers busted

Posted at 8:23 PM, Mar 10, 2016
Hillsborough County deputies announced a major drug bust involving 22 suspected marijuana traffickers.  
 
Investigators called the year-long investigation "Operation Hydro Hustlers."
 
"This is not the marijuana of yesteryear. The level of THC in the hydroponic marijuana is very, very high," said Sheriff David Gee.
 
He said his deputies went undercover to make the arrests.  There was a total of 22 people arrested and 10 grow houses shut down.
 
"It was all around the county. Valrico, Carrollwood, which is typical of these operations," said Sheriff Gee.
 
He said the dealers try to blend in with other resident.
 
"You may not realize it, but this could be happening right next to you," said Sheriff Gee.
 
Mike Fletcher lives across the street to a suspected grow house in Valrico.  He didn't notice anything too out of the ordinary.
 
"They had only been here a few months and kept to themselves," said Fletcher.
 
Signs of a grow house:
-Privacy fences
-Security cameras
-Security lighting
-Multiple air conditioners
-No trespassing signs
-Several people coming and going
 
Sheriff Gee said Julio Alvarez from Miami was the ringleader of the operation.  
 
He said those involved in the operation could face up to 30 years in prison.  
 
According to Gee, three of the suspected dealers fled to Cuba.