BROOKSVILLE — Maybe it was the 8-foot-tall chain-link fence they built. Or maybe it was the forest green windscreen they attached to it. Or the video camera they put on top of a tall pole that surveyed all cars that turned onto the gravel road just off Culbreath Road south of Brooksville.
Whatever it was about the couple that lived in the white house at 22051 Carr Creek Drive, something wasn't right, neighbors say.
When Hernando Sheriff's deputies uncovered a marijuana grow house Wednesday morning, the neighbors' suspicions were confirmed.
Isidoro Celeiro, 37, and Leonor Cabrera, 43, were arrested Wednesday after deputies found 97 marijuana plants growing in a garage behind the tall fence.
Acting on a search warrant, deputies found scales, marijuana grow catalogues, 43.6 grams of processed marijuana, plastic vacuum sealing bags and other items used for marijuana cultivation, according to an arrest affidavit. They also found a 4-month-old child on a bed in a room where they also found a tray used for marijuana plant clones, according to the affidavit.
Celeiro and Cabrera were charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana and other drug-related charges. They were also charged with grand theft and meter tampering for diverting electricity to the garage to help grow the plants, according to the arrest affidavit.
Both were still in the Hernando County jail on Thursday afternoon, Celeiro on a $48,000 bond and Cabrera on a $33,000 bond. Both face seven charges.
The people who lived near Celeiro and Cabrera said they knew little about the couple. Some were surprised to learn an infant lived next door.
The couple was secretive and rarely friendly, they say. It also didn't help that there seemed to be a language barrier; Celeiro and Cabrera were born in Cuba.
They moved onto the quiet, heavily wooded gravel street about two years ago and did all they could to isolate themselves from their few neighbors. When some wondered why they wanted to build a fence on their property, they first told neighbors they wanted to keep horses. Then they said they wanted to keep neighbors out.
"Everything they did was so highly suspicious, from the fence to their secret ways," said Robert Grant, who lives across the street from the house.
Celeiro and Cabrera's operation qualifies as a grow house under a new Florida law, which went into affect on July 1. The law used to apply to buildings that had 300 plants. Now, the threshold is 25 plants. Those accused of breaking the law could be charged with a second-degree felony and face up to 15 years in prison.
The arrests mark the latest in a string of grow-house operations uncovered by Hernando County law enforcement in recent months that have netted hundreds of plants and numerous arrests.
Michael Sanserino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1430.