The Polk County Sheriff's Office has taken down a large-scale marijuana operation.
Deputies arrested nine people and seized almost 100 pounds of marijuana, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd announced Tuesday.
Judd said two different marijuana grow houses were broken up, including one operated by Nelson Hernandez, 40, of Lake Wales.
Hernandez' operation was responsible for six grow houses in the Lake Wales and Frostproof areas, officials said. The operation took in millions of dollars a year, Judd said.
"Nelson Hernandez was often quoted as saying, 'You can do about three grows a year at a house but it's really important that you move the house after a grow because if you stay, the cops will catch you,'" Judd said Tuesday at a news conference. "Well, we caught him regardless of how often he was moving the grows."
Judd said the ring was so brazen they raided the competition's grow houses to steal their marijuana.
"He would take the dope and sell it as well," Judd said. "You could call that a twofer."
On Tuesday, the sheriff showed some evidence they had collected, including a gun, bulletproof vest and a big bag of marijuana. The operation resulted in the seizure of 96 pounds of marijuana and 70 marijuana plants, marijuana cultivation equipment, cash, and vehicles.
Most of the pot grown in the operation was shipped to the Northeast, Judd said.
Neighbors living nearby said they weren't too surprised by the bust.
"I know there are a lot of wide open spaces for people that want to do something that's not that great," said resident Lois Swenson.
Judd said Hernandez' wife, Zailen, refused to cooperate with investigators, even with that meant her children were going to be taken into state custody.
"She told the 5-year-old, when DCF started to leave with him, to man up," Judd said.
Polk deputies also busted a grow house in Poinciana on Monday but officials have yet to say if the operations are connected.