Redlands residents express concerns after landlord-tenant dispute results in illegal trash dump

(WSVN) - It’s an area known for large lots, pristine farmland and abundant nurseries, but a massive pile of trash uncovered in the Redlands has residents worried and upset. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek with 7 Investigates.

Miami-Dade Police say you are looking at 1.6 million cubic feet of trash.

This 40-foot-high illegal dump is filled with all kinds of waste, including hundreds of tires and a dilapidated trailer.

Nancy Suits, Redlands resident: “When I saw those pictures, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a different country.”

But this dump site is in the heart of the Redlands on a private property along Southwest 197th Avenue.

Those who live near it are outraged.

Mary Waters, Redlands resident: “It’s a horrific thing for anyone to do to the Earth.”

Police say large amounts of trash started piling up here last month.

Last week, their investigation led to the arrest of Edel Reyes Arteaga.

Detective Ryan Cowart, MDPD: “He made a profit off of destroying the environment.”

Detective Ryan Cowart is with the Miami-Dade Police illegal dumping unit.

He charged Reyes Arteaga not only for violating the litter law but extortion, as well.

Ryan Cowart: “In this case, he was facing eviction and told the landlord, ‘Listen, you’re going to pay up, or I am going to mess up the property.'”

The owner of the property told police Reyes Arteaga’s lease of this agricultural land was coming to an end, but instead of going away, Reyes Arteaga is accused of demanding from his landlord “$100,000” or else “he would destroy and fill the property with trash.”

The landlord refused to pay, and in just a few weeks, the property went from looking like this to this…

Police say one trucker confessed to paying Reyes Arteaga just $100 to dump trash here.

Ryan Cowart: “In the time we were investigating, it just exponentially grew in a short amount of time.”

Redlands residents are happy police made the arrest.

Now, they want the county government to help quickly clean up this property.

They’re worried because hurricane season is right around the corner.

Johnny Farias, South Miami-Dade resident: “A lot of that debris will be flying everywhere. You got kids out, animals out, people driving around. It’s going to be a hazard.”

Steven Green, Redlands resident: “It could be danger to life and limb for anyone outside.”

And since homeowners here use well water, they are worried about what could be seeping out of this trash.

Mary Waters: “You can bet there are going to be some really bad things in the ground.”

Steven Green: “You certainly need soil sampling. You need to determine exactly what’s there.”

We took these homeowners’ concerns to the county.

Miami-Dade’s Regulatory and Economic Resources office tells us, “Our teams are currently assessing the property to determine the best next steps for efficient removal of this waste.”

Johnny Farias: “This is all our backyard.”

And these anxious residents will be watching closely.

Just as fast as this illegal dump appeared, they want it to disappear.

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