A man who police were seeking to arrest on an unrelated charge was found to be growing marijuana inside a home in Georgia. On Friday, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office finally took Carlos Suarez-Diaz into custody after he escaped their clutches twice. Authorities discovered that Suarez-Diaz was running an extensive operation that has led to more serious charges.
WSB Channel 2 Action News reported that some 287 plants were discovered in a grow house he had set up in the basement of the home. The street value of the marijuana plants was estimated at $1.287 million and was said to weigh around 100 pounds. According to law enforcement, Suarez-Diaz was more than just a gardener. It appeared that the suspect was shipping the product out of the state.
"This is not a mom and pop operation. This is a very sophisticated operation," Commander Phil Price of the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, according to WSB.
When police arrived at the home, which is valued at around half-a-million dollars, Suarez-Diaz fled. Sergeant Marianne Kelley told WSB that several onlookers watched as authorities chased the suspect down the street on foot. They were able to apprehend Suarez-Diaz and place him in handcuffs, but he then slipped out of them and ran away yet again.
Neighbors were shocked at the discovery. J.J. McGovern told the news station that the odor coming from the rented home smelled like "skunk weed" and that he could smell it from across the street. According to police, the basement was filled wall-to-wall with marijuana plants, grow lights, and other systems in place to nurture the plants.
Recalling an interaction he had with Suarez-Diaz, McGovern realized why his neighbor passed on the offer to cut his grass.
"I did talk to [the] guy about mowing his grass and let him use my lawnmower. He said, 'That's okay. I'm cool.' Now I know why. I guess he wasn't cutting the grass, he was growing the grass," McGovern said.Suarez-Diaz has been charged with trafficking marijuana, possession of and manufacturing marijuana, obstruction of a police officer, and escape. In addition to the marijuana, guns were also found in the home. There is no word on whether or not the suspect owned those weapons, or if subsequent charges will be charged.
WSB-TV reported that Suarez-Diaz has lived in California, Puerto Rico, and Georgia. He is in police custody and is being held without bail while the investigation ensues.