FRESNO, CA — Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that Antonio Pérez, 40, an illegal alien from Guanajuato, Mexico, was sentenced to five years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, for possessing several firearms in connection with a marijuana cultivation operation in a vineyard in Madera.
According to court documents, in June 2011, Pérez was found next to a running tractor in a vineyard on Avenue 8 in Madera with freshly cut marijuana on the tractor seat and in his pocket. Approximately 3,792 marijuana plants were found growing underneath grapevines in the vineyard. Several firearms were also found within a mobile home on the property where Pérez admitted he resided.
This case was the product of an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team (MADNET), and Madera County Gang Enforcement Team (MADGET) under the umbrella of Operation Trident, an intensive multi-agency effort in 2010 that focused primarily on the eradication of marijuana from public land. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spearheaded the operation. To date, 65 defendants have been convicted in federal court as a result of Operation Trident. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar prosecuted this case.