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Modesto Cornfield Pot Growers Indicted

FRESNO, CA— United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams announced that on Thursday, a federal grand jury in Fresno returned a four-count indictment against Eudaldo Garcia-Salas, 56, and Jose Cisneros-Garcia, 52, both of Modesto, charging them with conspiring to cultivate, distribute, and possess marijuana with the intent to distribute it, and cultivating and possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it. Cisneros-Garcia is also charged with employing a juvenile to assist in his marijuana-cultivation operation.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, a multi-agency narcotics task force in Modesto. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.

According to court documents, Garcia-Salas and Cisneros-Garcia were involved in a conspiracy to grow marijuana in the middle of a cornfield and grown under the guise of being medicinal under California law. While marijuana is illegal under federal law, court records indicate that the marijuana in this case was also not grown in compliance with state law. During the investigation of this case, narcotics agents seized over 500 marijuana plants weighing more than 3,000 pounds, along with an assault weapon from Cisneros-Garcia’s residence.

Both Garcia-Salas and Cisneros-Garcia were detained as flight risks and dangers to the community. They are scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. Magistrate Court in Fresno on October 7, 2011.

If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. Under the Sentencing Guidelines, Cisneros-Garcia faces enhanced penalties if convicted of employing a juvenile to assist in his marijuana cultivation operation. 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.

The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.



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