BOISE, ID,- Heber Franco-Lombera, 25, of Bieber, California, was sentenced November 29, 2011, to 60 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Franco-Lombera was also ordered to pay a $500 fine and forfeit firearms. He pleaded guilty to the charge in September 2011.
The case was initiated when Oregon law enforcement officers observed a vehicle parked in a remote location in Eastern Oregon, on a state highway next to creek drainage. The vehicle was occupied by co-defendants Jose Cardona-Ramirez and Victoria Villa-Gonzalez, a husband and wife from Caldwell, Idaho. Villa-Gonzalez was the registered owner of the vehicle. Surveillance then observed individuals tending the marijuana plants in the hills above the highway. Subsequently, a vehicle driven by Cardona-Ramirez with passenger Francisco Cardona-Rodriquez was followed to Franco-Lombera’s residence in Bieber, California. During a search of the residence, marijuana plants in the midst of being processed as well as packaged marijuana was seized. Two firearms, a pistol and a shotgun were also located and seized.
Co-conspirators Cardona-Ramirez, Villa-Gonzalez, and Cardona-Rodriguez pled guilty earlier to conspiracy to manufacture/distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants; Cardona-Ramirez also pled guilty to being a deported alien found in the United States. Cardona-Rodriquez is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12; Villa-Gonzalez on January 5, 2012; and Cardona-Ramirez on January 19, 2012.
The charge of conspiracy to manufacture/distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants is punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years up to life, a term of supervised release of at least five years, and a maximum fine of $10 million. The charge of being a deported alien found in the United States is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a maximum fine of $250,000, a term of supervised release of not more than three years.The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Land Management. Substantial cooperation was also provided by California Highway Patrol, Malheur County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office, Harney County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office, and Lassen County, Modoc County, and Shasta County (California) Sheriffs’ Offices.