MIAMI LAKES, Fla. – A Miami Lakes man who pleaded guilty in February to money laundering and attempting to cause a financial institution to fail to file currency transaction reports was sentenced Wednesday to 65 months in prison.
Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez, 46, agreed to forfeit more than $18 million that was seized by authorities in 2016 and $42,051 in seized blank money orders.
“Those who seek to deceptively circumvent established financial reporting requirements will be called to pay for their misdeeds, by forfeiting the monies acquired through their illicit conduct,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg said in a statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal, state and local partners will continue to target for prosecution those who launder money, including narcotics trafficking proceeds, through our banking systems and the U.S. Postal Service.”
Hernandez-Gonzalez’s home was raided in June 2016 after the Drug Enforcement Agency informed Miami-Dade police about a tip it received regarding the man’s business, Blossom Experience.
Julie Steinhardt, a legal advisor for the Miami-Dade Police Department, investigators eventually gained enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant for Hernandez-Gonzalez’s home.
During the raid, authorities found Home Depot buckets stuffed with $22 million in cash concealed within the walls of the home. The money was grouped in bundles of $100 bills.
Authorities said Hernandez-Gonzalez’s Miami store specializes in equipment to facilitate indoor gardening, and he was being investigated as part of a group trafficking marijuana out of Tennessee.
The investigation included wiretaps of Hernandez-Gonzalez sharing tips with an unnamed person on how to properly care for marijuana plants, authorities said.
Authorities said they found marijuana and a safe containing $180,000 in cash while raiding the business.
Salma Hernandez, a Blossom Experience employee who is also Hernandez-Gonzalez’s sister, was arrested on charges of place/purpose of trafficking and possession of place/purpose of trafficking/conspiracy.
According to the Miami Herald, Hernandez-Gonzalez was first charged in state criminal court for marijuana trafficking and money laundering.
He was then indicted federally after agents from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service uncovered suspicious bank deposits, each less than $10,000 and staggered out.
Prosecutors said Hernandez-Gonzalez hid the money so the government could not see how much money he was making by selling to marijuana growers and traffickers.
Hernandez-Gonzalez has not been convicted on any drug charges.