Miami Legal Tips Blog

Grow Room Plagues South Florida Family

The title of this article aptly sums up an incident that occurred in the life one household in South Florida. An appropriate subtitle, though, might also refer to the various bouts of legal trouble that ensued when one event led to another. While the matter awaits further legal proceedings, it is useful to point out a few things that happened that might have been avoided if better decision-making had taken place.

As a local television station reported, five people — Orin Tong, 45; Wanda Hernandez-Tong, 43; Judah Hernandez, 24; Mariah Tong, 23; and Imani Tong, 22 – were arrested on various charges after police discovered a marijuana “grow room” inside the home where the family was living. Charges included possession of marijuana, possession of MDMA, possession of a place to manufacture a controlled substance, possession of cocaine and tampering with physical evidence.

According to the TV station, Orin Tong was driving in a Toyota Camry when he was stopped by officers who were conducting a narcotics investigation. As police searched Tong, they found two MDMA pills on him, which Tong reportedly said he had gotten from his daughter. He admitted that the pills were his.

Police obtained a warrant to search Tong’s house. More MDMA pills were found in his bedroom, as were cocaine and marijuana. Police also discovered a firearm in Tong’s room. He reportedly told police that the room belonged to him alone and that his children had been selling marijuana from the home. He further explained that the MDMA pills and the cocaine were part of his religion and were for his sole personal use. The grow room was located across from Tong’s room.

Complicating matters further: Wanda Hernandez-Tong is employed as a nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital, which released the following statement after her arrest: “Jackson policy states that employees have three days to notify their supervisor of an arrest. We then review the circumstances of any arrest and take appropriate action based on the level of the charges. We will suspend an employee immediately if it is a felony charge, pending the outcome of the case.”

Because of the discovery of two pills and the admissions of a single person, a family of five faces serious criminal charges that could affect each person’s future for some time to come—even if they are found innocent on each and every charge. This is all the more reason to know your legal rights and to discuss your situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney—before things snowball to a point where a relatively minor matter becomes a legal nightmare.

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