United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Escondido Man Indicted For Multi-County Marijuana Conspiracy
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Thursday, November 29, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. — A grand jury in Fresno indicted Martin Rojas-Cuamba, 44, of Escondido, today, charging him with conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana grown in Tulare, Kern, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, and San Diego Counties, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
The indictment stems from Operation Mercury, an initiative implemented earlier this year to target large-scale rural marijuana growers in six counties in the Central Valley of California.
Rojas was connected to the seizure of over 10,000 marijuana plants grown on agricultural lands in Terra Bella and Bakersfield, and public lands in the Sequoia National Forest in Kern County and the Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties. Law enforcement officers also seized $53,460, representing drug proceeds, from Rojas’ residence in Escondido. The seized monies are subject to forfeiture.
Rojas is next scheduled to appear in federal court in San Diego on December 6, and will be transferred to Fresno for prosecution. If convicted, Rojas faces a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years, a maximum prison term of life, and a $10 million fine. The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the County Sheriff’s departments of Tulare, Kern, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties, and the Escondido Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.