Lakeland Man Convicted in Marijuana Growing Conspiracy
Orlando, Florida - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that a federal jury yesterday found Raul Gonzalez (48, Lakeland) guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and manufacture marijuana. Gonzalez faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 12, 2012.
According to evidence presented at trial, Gonzalez was a part of an organization that operated several marijuana grow houses throughout central and northern Florida. Gonzalez's primary role in this operation was to sell the harvested marijuana on the street. On December 9, 2011, agents executed a search warrant at a house in Alachua, Florida. They discovered a growing operation involving 95 full-grown marijuana plants, some as tall as six feet. Approximately 160 "seedling" plants were also found at the house.
This growing operation included two large growing areas inside the house and garage, as well as a third operation located inside a semi-trailer in the back yard. Gonzalez and his co-defendant, Gilberto Mendez-Hernandez, were both present at the house at the time of the search. Mendez-Hernandez pled guilty on April 19, 2012 and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 12, 2012.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent S. Chiu.