Authorities find marijuana operation aboard Sanibel boat


There was trouble growing right under neighbor’s noses on Sanibel Island.

Jurgen Ebenhoeh woke up to the smell of gasoline. When he went to investigate, he found it was coming from the house boat docked two doors down.

“And then I was talking to my neighbor and he smelled it also and then we called the police,” Ebenhoeh said.

When Sanibel Police arrived to investigate the smell of gas, they say they encountered another smell coming from inside the boat.

After an investigation, police found more than 25 marijuana plants, drug paraphernalia and Xanax pills.

Police arrested 34-year-old Erik James Brown on charges of drug trafficking.

“That is quite surprising. I saw a police officer here but had no idea about the seriousness of the operation. I’m just glad nobody was dead,” said neighbor Ty Symroski.

Ebenhoeh says he had a feeling someone was living on the boat, but never even considered the possibility that drugs were being grown inside.

“I saw some people going in and going out in the night. Sometimes we have been disturbed in the night because somebody was there,” Ebenhoeh said. “I did not imagine this. Of course not.”

He says he’s relieved the police caught the operation before it grew out of control.

“I feel very good the police came immediately. And I feel very safe,” Ebenhoeh said.

Brown is in custody at the Lee County Jail. He’s facing charges of marijuana trafficking in excess of 25 pounds. His trial is scheduled for April 23.

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