Office of the United States Attorney, John S. Leonardo
District of Arizona
July 16, 2012
FOUR MEXICAN NATIONALS ARRESTED FOR ILLEGALLY CULTIVATING OVER 12,000 MARIJUANA PLANTS ON BLM LAND SOUTH OF WIKIEUP, ARIZONA
PHOENIX – On July 12, 2012, four Mexican nationals made an initial appearance in Phoenix before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence O. Anderson. On July 10, 2012, the four men, identified as Leopoldo Deniz-Ochoa, 27, Noe Isreal Cardenas-Delgado, 34, Andres Casillas-Alvarez, 54, and Jose Casillas-Castaneda, 29, were arrested for cultivating 12,556 marijuana plants on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land near the Big Sandy Wash, south of Wikieup, Ariz.
A complaint filed in federal district court charges all four men with one count of conspiracy to cultivate marijuana plants on federal land and one count of cultivation of marijuana on federal land. According to the complaint, law enforcement officers discovered several marijuana cultivation areas near the Big Sandy Wash after receiving a tip from hunters. The cultivation areas were equipped with an irrigation system, which included generators to pump water to man-made reservoirs that were lined with plastic and camouflaged with cut vegetation and debris. Water was gravity fed from the reservoirs to the cultivation areas through irrigation piping. Marijuana plants were then watered through dripping pipes, which were located throughout the cultivation areas.
A conviction on each count in the complaint carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $10 million fine, or both. In determining an actual sentence, the judge assigned to this case will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, will not be bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation leading to these arrests was conducted by the Bureau of Land Management, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team. The prosecution is being handled by Glenn B. McCormick Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: 12-mj-03311-LOA
RELEASE NUMBER: 2012-173(Deniz-Ochoa_etal)
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az