In a guilty plea deal, a South Florida man who hid $22 million of suspected marijuana trafficking funds in five-gallon buckets will keep $4 million, his home, his hydroponics garden supplies store and five Rolex watches.
Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez, 46, of Miami Lakes, Fla., pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to money laundering and structuring bank deposits to avoid the federal government's reporting requirement, known as smurfing, his attorney confirmed to WTVJ-TV in Miami.
Marijuana trafficking and other charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
The June 2016 raid on Hernandez-Gonzalez's home was the largest money seizure in the Miami-Dade Police Department's history – money found hidden in 24 buckets purchased at Home Depot.
Hernandez-Gonzalez's The Blossom Experience store in Miami-Dade sold items such as lights, fertilizers and watering equipment for indoor gardening. Similar businesses – though legal – have long been accused of facilitating and encouraging the underground production of marijuana.
Hernandez-Gonzalez was recorded in conversation giving advice to others on how to care for marijuana plants and he later admitted to helping customers grow cannabis, authorities said.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 20 – coincidentally, a celebratory day in cannabis culture.
Hernandez-Gonzalez faces up to 30 years in prison. However, his defense team hopes he receives a lower sentence of about five years.
Courtesy of our news partner at NBC Miami