Hundreds of pounds of spice, marijuana seized in Hillsborough, dozens arrested

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) -Two major drug busts in Tampa Bay have led to dozens of arrests and the seizure of hundreds of marijuana plants and packets of “spice,” according to deputies.

Hillsborough deputies launched an investigation, called “Operation Fall Harvest,” after receiving several anonymous CrimeStoppers tips about marijuana and spice dealers in the area.

The deputies first investigated a spice case near the University of South Florida in District One and recovered 150 pounds (7,200 packages) of spice that was up for sale.

In the same investigation, another 222 pounds of Damiana leaves were seized along with $10,500 in cash. Damiana leaves are used to manufacture spice. Authorities estimate the spice’s street value was close to $352,000.

“Operation Fall Harvest” expanded into Pasco County and went as far north as Marion County.

In another bust, six grow houses were found, containing a total of 481 marijuana plants, which investigators seized along with 24.5 pounds of processed marijuana — $1.4 million in street value.  Ten firearms were also seized along with $97,011 in proceeds.

Deputies eventually obtained and served 13 search warrants, ten of which were served in Hillsborough County.   Pasco and Marion authorities also executed search warrants.

Additionally, 13 subjects were arrested on a variety of serious charges including racketeering and drug trafficking.

More charges and arrests are expected.

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