Officer follows his nose to locate ‘grow house’

CAC chair James Blough (left) honors Miami-Dade Police Hammocks District Officer Carlos Chapie (center) with assistance from Acting Maj. Hernan Organvidez.

Miami-Dade Police Hammocks District Officer Carlos Chapie got a laugh and a warm burst of applause after a Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) honored him as the District’s Officer of the Month for February 2012.

The chuckles occurred as CAC chair James Blough read a citation relating that Officer Chapie detected a “strong odor of marijuana emitting from an unknown house” in Winston Park on Jan. 23.

Chapie had just parked his cruiser at Winston Park Elementary School, 13200 SW 78 Ave. where he had volunteered to advise students on DARE, the countywide Drug Abuse Resistance Program.

After Chapie left the school, he decided to canvass the area to see if he could spot “suspected homes” that emitted the distinctive odor.

“You must have a pretty good sense of smell for the stuff,” Blough interjected, causing the laughter from CAC members while Chapie grinned in protest.

“Never touch the stuff,” the officer said. Nonetheless, Officer Chapie’s doggedness paid off when he decided there was sufficient evidence of at least one location. He contacted the Miami- Dade Police Narcotics Bureau leading to an area investigation that subsequently pinpointed a single home as a potential “grow house.”

Obtaining consent from an occupant of the suspicious home, detectives searched the premises to uncover “numerous hydroponic marijuana plants in various bedrooms, along with an array of drug paraphernalia consistant with cultivating and harvesting marijuana,” according to the citation.

As a result, both the homeowner and two tenants were arrested on drug charges.

“We had a laugh at this officer’s expense,” added Hammocks District Acting Maj. Hernan M. Organvidez. “But young men like Officer Chapie, only with us less than a year, are proving to be outstanding in their knowledge and initiative that leads to making West Kendall a safer place to live.” Blough and Organvidez congratulated Chapie with the Officer of the Month citation at the Feb. 29 CAC meeting as the officer accepted, modestly adding, “It’s the job we’re supposed to do.”

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