Three arrested for neighboring grow houses

Posted at 3:40 PM, Jan 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 22:36:08-05

The Lee County Sheriff's Office took down two marijuana grow houses right across the street from each other in northeast Cape Coral Thursday night.

Pablo Batista, 21, his father Ramon Batista, 61, and Jose Silva Manresa, 52, were arrested for cultivating and trafficking marijuana.

The drug bust happened in the 1200 block of Northeast 19th Avenue.

Deputies were initially focusing on the Batistas' house during their three month long investigation, but during that time were able to determine Silva Manresa's house across the street was also involved, seizing 64 marijuana plants between the two homes.

"It just goes to show how well you really know your neighbors right down the street," neighbor Jessi Heim said. "To know that there was something substantial like that right down the street from us is just a little worrying, especially when we have the kids out playing in the street and all of that," she continued.

Heim said her 8-year-old daughter and niece went door-to-door selling Girl Scout Cookies a week ago.

"She had even gone up to the doors of those houses that have now been busted in this drug bust," Heim said.

She said one of the men was pleasant to the girls.

Another neighbor, Doug Martin, knows how dangerous it could have been.

"I know it's just marijuana, but it could be guns in there. They could be making deals in there. A deal goes bad, I got stray bullets," Martin said.

He said the men were always very quiet, and he always had his suspicions.

"We tried on that one a couple of times and they wouldn't answer the door. Walking the dogs, they would always go back inside the garage," Martin said.

Pablo Batista told investigators they were growing the marijuana to survive and make money, and he moved in with his ailing father Ramon Batista to help him keep up with the plants.

Jose Silva Manresa told deputies he's Ramon Batista's brother-in-law.

Neighbors in the area are on high-alert.

"We just have to keep our eyes open and be more vigilant I guess," Martin said.

This is the second marijuana grow house the Lee County Sheriff's Office has shut down this week.

Pablo Batista, Ramon Batista, and Silva Manresa are expected to appear in court in late February.