JENKINS CO., GA (WTOC) - Joint efforts by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Southeastern Regional Drug Enforcement Office and the sheriff’s offices in Jenkins and Burke counties has dismantled a Cuban drug trafficking organization.
Five people were arrested in the two-year drug investigation. Three large and sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operations, guns and money were seized. The marijuana had an approximate street value of over $1.3 million.
Investigators say the don’t often see this elaborate of a marijuana grow operation in South Georgia.
Agents took photos of more than 100 marijuana plants inside the insulated, climate controlled space. It included artificial lights and heat sources to cultivate the crop.
“The buildings were laid out, equipped, and set up solely for the purpose of growing mass amounts of high grade marijuana,” said Special Agent in Charge, Jamie Jones, GBI.
Jones says GBI agents busted similar operations two years ago in Emanuel and Johnson counties, and believe the raids in 2017 and the ones this week trace back to cartel-level backers who set up the sites and sent people there to grow one crop after another and ship the pot back to the Miami area.
“These were very complex operations,” Jones said. “Not your typical run of the mill that we’re used to seeing in this part of the state.”
Jones says the site even had an underground tunnel that connected the mobile home to the grow building. He says he hopes the raid sends a signal to out-of-state growers that South Georgia isn’t the place to do business.
All five of the following suspects were charged with manufacturing marijuana and possession with intent to distribute, according to the GBI:
- Yurien Almeida, 33, of Millen, Jenkins County, GA
- Saili Fundora-Penate, 31, of Millen, Jenkins County, GA
- Nestor Rodriguez, 30, of Millen, Jenkins County, GA
- Sisleydis Almisaday Vegan Fierra, 24, of Millen, Jenkins County, GA
- Ernesto Rodriguez, 38, of Waynesboro, Burke County, GA
This investigation remains active and additional arrests are anticipated.