Miami-Dade County

After $22 million found in buckets at home, man pleads not guilty

Cash in buckets seized from the Miami Lakes home of Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez. He is charged with money laundering and marijuana trafficking.
Cash in buckets seized from the Miami Lakes home of Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez. He is charged with money laundering and marijuana trafficking. Miami-Dade Police Department

The man found with over $22 million in suspected drug cash hidden inside his Miami Lakes home pleaded not guilty Tuesday as prosecutors filed formal charges against him.

The arraignment for Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez came several weeks after Miami-Dade police, in a record-setting bust, found the cash, most of it stuffed in 24 orange buckets hidden in a secret room inside his home.

Hernandez-Gonzalez, 44, remains jailed in a case that drew worldwide attention. He has yet to post $3 million bond.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged him with six felonies, including money laundering and marijuana trafficking.

Hernandez-Gonzalez runs Blossom Experience, a North Miami-Dade store that sells equipment for indoor gardening. Cops believe that the business, while legal, caters to marijuana traffickers growing weed in clandestine labs inside homes.

Investigators raided his businesses and home after he was caught on a phone wiretap giving advice to Miami marijuana growers arrested by federal agents in Tennessee.

The surprise haul of cash was discovered inside a small room behind a second-floor hallway, accessible only through a trap door in the attic above.

Miami-Dade police hauled away the money in a pickup truck, with narcotics detectives spending more than a day exhaustively counting the money. The department released striking photos of the money hidden in the room — and the immense pile of cash once the bills were removed from the buckets.

The department has asked a Miami-Dade civil court to give the $22.6 million to the government under forfeiture proceedings.

His defense lawyers have portrayed him as a legitimate businessman.

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