Mortgage Fraud Leads to Racketeering and Marijuana Trafficking

Allison Tussey —  March 31, 2011 — Leave a comment

The following suspects were arrested on charges that include conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to traffic in cannabis, attempt to manufacture cannabis, mortgage fraud and grand theft:

Lesman Chavarria, 25, Miami, FL;

Yeleines Viera, 26, Miami Beach, FL;

Maria Lurbe, 46, Miami, FL;

Alexander Yanes, 27, Miami, FL;

In October 2009, Detectives with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Sebring Field Office attempted to serve arrest warrants on 10 subjects for  Of the ten, the above four were located and arrested.

The investigation began April 2008 and stemmed from the 2007 investigations of the marijuana grow houses that were discovered and dismantled in Highlands County, Florida. The targets of the investigation reside in the Miami, Florida, area.

This is the first tier of arrests with more arrests anticipated. Highlands Sheriff’s Detectives and FDLE Agents from the Miami and Fort Myers Regional Operations Centers, which includes the Sebring Field Office, traveled to Miami and conducted an arrest operation of all targets. This particular case is being prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution in Orlando.

Highlands County, Florida, law enforcement officials have continued to probe the many marijuana growing operations identified throughout the county over the past couple of years. These ongoing investigations resulted from a joint effort by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and FDLE.

“Following the marijuana growing busts, we started looking backward to see how this many grow houses popped up all at once,” said Sheriff Susan Benton. “What we discovered was that through the use of mortgage fraud, these criminals had a means to organize and conspire to commit racketeering and trafficking of marijuana”.

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Allison Tussey

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