Created: Fri, 06 Sep 2013 01:36:00 EST
Updated: Fri, 06 Sep 2013 01:45:37 EST
COLUMBIA, S.C. (SCAG) -- State Attorney General Alan Wilson announced an eight-month-long, multi-agency investigation led to this week’s disruption of a major indoor marijuana growing operation in Lexington, Richland and Orangeburg Counties. Eight suspects were taken into custody on Wednesday, September 4, 2013. In addition, law enforcement officers seized more than seven hundred (700) high grade marijuana plants being grown at five locations. The plants were valued at more than $3.5 million.
The joint investigation was conducted by agents from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Columbia Police Department; the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office; the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office; the Richland County Sheriff’s Office; the South Carolina Forestry Commission; the South Carolina National Guard/Counter-Drug Task Force; and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“This is an example of law enforcement at its best,” Wilson said. “Agents at the city, county, state and federal levels worked together to successfully combat a common problem. I commend all the participating agencies for the collaboration and cooperation they displayed to help put this illegal indoor growing operation out of business.”
Search warrants were executed at three locations in Lexington County and four in Orangeburg County. The following subjects were arrested and charged with Trafficking Marijuana by the manufacture of more than 100 plants of marijuana: Yaima Perez Castillo (DOB 7/11/1984) of Swansea, SC; Yancarlos Cuervo (DOB 5/15/1981) of Gaston, SC; Robiel Rodriguez Gonzalez (DOB 10/27/1972) of Orangeburg, SC; Gustavo Del Sol Sanchez (DOB 12/16/1971); Osniel Garcia Santana (DOB 6/17/1975) of North, SC; Manuel Suarez (DOB 8/24/1976) of Swansea, SC; Janesky Vasquez (DOB 9/24/1976) of Orangeburg, SC; and Ivis Ahimara Reyes Yedra (DOB 9/28/1988) of North, SC.
In January 2013, law enforcement officers initiated an investigation into the manufacture of high grade marijuana by a criminal organization operating in Lexington, Orangeburg, and Richland Counties.
Grows in controlled environments produce a superior grade of extremely high potency marijuana and increase profits by ensuring a harvest every 90 to 120 days. The operation is often risky and labor intensive. Equipment such as exhaust fans or vents, carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide cylinders, sun circle solar tracks, reflective light hoods and bulbs, ballasts, potting soil, packaging material, scales, dryers, hanging systems are often used. The use of that specialized equipment requires increased electricity usage, and in some cases, operators devise ways to circumvent the monitoring of electricity to receive electricity without paying for it.
The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests are expected.
The case will be prosecuted by the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office.