United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Six Indicted For Marijuana Cultivation On Agricultural Land In Tulare County
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Thursday, September 13, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. — Six defendants were indicted today for their involvement in a large marijuana cultivation operation in Terra Bella in Tulare County, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
The indictment charges the following defendants with narcotics offenses: Baltazar Rodriguez, 43; his son, Jose Guadalupe Rodriguez, 18; Carlos Adan Lupian-Lua, 24; Jose Guadalupe Zavala-Ramos, 32 ; Juan Carlos Perez-Gonzales, 43; all of Michoacán, Mexico; and Hector Quintero-Mercado, 34, of Jalisco, Mexico. They are charged with conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, manufacturing marijuana and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. Lupian-Lua, Zavala-Ramos, Perez-Gonzales, and Quintero-Mercado are also charged with immigration offences.
According to court records, law enforcement officers seized 1,313 marijuana plants from 39.6 acres of farm land in Terra Bella rented by Baltazar Rodriguez, where he resided with his family, including his son Jose Rodriguez. Inside the residence, officers found a loaded handgun in Baltazar Rodriguez’s bedroom, a digital scale, and documents showing wire transfers of cash to Mexico. On the property, officers also found a trailer where Quintero-Mercado was living.
If convicted of the drug charges, the defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine. Avoiding immigration officers carries a maximum prison term of six months and a fine of $5,000 for a first offense and two years in custody and a fine of $250,000 for a second offense. The actual sentences, if convicted, 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. Lupian-Lua, Zavala-Ramos, Perez-Gonzales, Quintero-Mercado, and Baltazar Rodriguez, who is originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, are also subject to deportation, if convicted of one or more of the charges.
A federal magistrate judge has detained all of the defendants, except Jose Rodriguez, after finding they posed a flight risk or danger to the community. The defendants are scheduled for arraignment on September 19, 2012 in federal court in Fresno. The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.