Marijuana grow operation busted, 275 plants seized, Marion County deputies say

Investigators alerted to grow operation after report of power theft by utility company

(Left) Rigoberto Rodriguez, (Right) Alexis Diaz (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A sophisticated marijuana growing operation was busted and two men now face charges after investigators were alerted to a case of power theft, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Ocala police.

The Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team, made up of members of the sheriff’s office and police department, arrested Alexis Diaz, 49, and Rigoberto Rodriguez, 60.

Investigators said Clay Electric alerted them to a case of power theft on Tuesday. The utility became aware of theft when it noticed an irregularity in service at 6659 NE 90th Street Road, according to the release. The utility found the power was being diverted to a metal structure on the property.

[TRENDING: Hurricane center keeping eye on 3 systems | Florida woman missing after cross-country road trip | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

UDEST agents arrived at the home Wednesday and found no one at the main residence, records show. Investigator said they then tried the metal structure and reported hearing several doors slamming and the strong odor of marijuana.

UDEST: Marijuana growing operation found at 6659 NE 90th Street Road (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

The two men then came outside and Diaz said that the property was his, according to the release. Investigators said they obtained a search warrant and searched the property. Inside the metal structure, the agents said they found a grow operation with 275 marijuana plants.

The growing equipment was destroyed and the plants were seized.

Diaz faces charges of marijuana cultivation, trafficking in cannabis, owning a structure to manufacture or traffic drugs and grand theft of power.

Rodriguez was busted for marijuana cultivation.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.