WEEKI WACHEE — Five suspects in a marijuana-growing operation who told deputies on Tuesday that someone tried to steal drugs from their home now face more criminal charges, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Already charged with felony cultivation of marijuana, the five now face charges of drug trafficking. Two of the suspects were also charged with possessing a place, structure or conveyance for the sale, trafficking or manufacturing of drugs.
The five were being held at the Hernando County Jail on Wednesday on bails totaling at least $25,000.
Sgt. Donna Black, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said the investigation was ongoing.
Early Tuesday, five people inside the home at 11480 Manassa Ave. told authorities that someone had stormed into their house, seemingly intent on stealing from them.
One of the people in the house sought help from a neighbor, who is a Hernando County sheriff's deputy. The deputy responded, calling the department to report the home invasion.
When deputies arrived, people inside the house said they had been robbed of between 3 and 5 pounds of pot, according to an arrest report. Deputies found 59 marijuana plants inside the house, along with cultivated marijuana, irrigation equipment, ventilation equipment and other items associated with growing pot.
After procuring a search warrant, detectives later found 41 pounds of marijuana in the house.
Arrested were Wilson Rodriguez, 40, of Tampa; Edilberto Escobar Serrano, 25, of Weeki Wachee; Javier Verde, 35, of Miami; Jarol Zamora-Herrera, 34, unknown; and Batista Pena Yunet, 25, of Weeki Wachee.
Joel Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6120.