By Debbie Carson, Online Editor
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Two houses inside a gated community near South County Park were home to an illegal secret, according to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office – a secret that led to the arrest of one county resident, who is now facing drug-related charges.
The Sheriff’s Office arrested Eric Sotero Martinez, 26, of 784 Middleton Dr. SW, Vero Beach, north of Oslo Road, west of South County Park on Sept. 24. He is being held at the county jail on $20,000 bond.
Martinez faces charges of cultivating marijuana, marijuana possession with intent to distribute and possession of psilocybin mushrooms, which are known to cause hallucinations, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
In all, about 6 pounds of marijuana were confiscated along with four bags of mushrooms, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The street value of the haul was not immediately released.
Investigators discovered about 60 marijuana plants growing in the rear bedroom of a house on Stockbridge Square SW after a mortgage company employee went to the foreclosed home to change the locks.
The employee, Edwin Claudio, found tin material covering a door inside the house and cut the material away from the door, finding the hidden marijuana growing inside, according to authorities.
Claudio then contacted the Sheriff’s Office and investigators arrived on scene and came into contact with Anihara Hernandez, later revealed that her fiance, Eric Martinez, was growing marijuana in the house on Stockbridge Square home and that she believed he was also growing the plant in their Middleton Drive home.
Hernandez gave investigators permission to search the Middleton Drive home, where they found two marijuana smoking devices, a scale, and packaged marijuana.
Inside the Stockbridge Square residence, investigators found about 60 plants growing in a bedroom, industrial grow lights, fans and a carbon dioxide machine. They also found four bags of psilocybin mushrooms, a Schedule 1 narcotic.