A former Highlands County Sheriff’s Office deputy and his wife were arrested on warrants Thursday in the wake of a July 17 house fire that led officials to discover items typically used for indoor marijuana growing operations.
Hiram Obregon and his wife, Lissette, were booked into the Highlands County jail with no bond. They face charges of arson, producing marijuana, owning a structure where drugs are manufactured, and possession of marijuana over 20 grams. The arson count is a first-degree felony. The other charges are all third-degree felonies.
The warrant stems from a July 17 house fire that occurred at the Obregon’s home at 3335 Northern Blvd. in Lake Placid.
During an investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, an insurance investigator and HCSO detectives, several items such as lighting and electrical products typically associated with an indoor marijuana grow operation were found.
There appeared to be marijuana plants in the residence that had been shielded from the fire by topsoil, according to a press release from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. The root systems were submitted to the University of Florida for examination where tests confirmed they were cannabis sativa, commonly known as marijuana. Obregon blamed his wife, saying she was growing plants in the house, but he didn’t know which type.
Hiram Obregon was an officer with the Avon Park Police Department, hired Oct. 3, 2011. Obregon transitioned to the HCSO as a deputy when Avon Park contracted with the sheriff’s office for police protection exactly one year later on Oct. 3, 2012.
Still in a probationary period at the HCSO, Obregon was found to be in violation of HCSO general orders regarding the operation of his official vehicle, driving at excessive speeds on numerous occasions without regard to adverse road conditions.
An internal investigation followed a complaint of erratic driving. A review of the in-car camera system confirmed the allegations and Obregon was terminated from the sheriff’s office on July 3.