FRESNO, CA — Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Carlos Martinez, 23, of Oaxaca, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to cultivate, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.
According to his guilty plea, Martinez admitted that he had conspired to grow 45,500 marijuana plants ranging from two to 13 feet tall within a corn field in Madera. According to his plea agreement, Martinez had planted the corn in March 2010, and then planted the marijuana within the corn rows in April 2010.
Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced on October 28, 2011 by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum term of life in prison, as well as up to a $4 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is the product of an investigation conducted under the umbrella of Operation Trident by the DEA, Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team (MADNET), and Madera SWAT team. Operation Trident was a multi-agency marijuana enforcement effort in Madera, Fresno, and Tulare Counties in 2009 and 2010. Operation Trident resulted in the eradication of approximately 663,898 marijuana plants primarily from public lands in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and foothills in the Eastern District of California. This case brings the total number of federal convictions in connection with Operation Trident to 65. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.