Gainesville Marijuana Traffickers Sentenced
Load of “Vegetables” Concealed Approximately 1,600 Pounds of Marijuana
GAINESVILLE, Ga. – Three men who planned to use a Gainesville warehouse to unload their vegetables and marijuana were sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge William C. O’Kelley, announced Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Marco Ortiz-Barajas, 19, Angel Zamudio-Martinez, 54, Jose Luis Chavez-Morfin, 43, all of whom are from Mexico but resided in the Atlanta metropolitan area, were convicted upon their pleas of guilty on June 29, 2012, to a charge of conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute.
“Today’s sentences are a reminder that drug trafficking carries with it serious consequences and that no community is immune from its presence or its potentially destructive effects,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
“This case demonstrates that Atlanta and its surrounding environs continue to serve as a hub for the distribution of marijuana and other drugs smuggled into the United States from Mexico,” said Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta. “HSI will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to target the organizations responsible for drug trafficking in Georgia and to send a strong message that their criminal activity will not be tolerated here.”
Chavez-Morfin was sentenced to 5 years, 10 months in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Zamudio-Martinez was sentenced to 4 years, 2 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Ortiz-Barajas was sentenced to 3 years in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Each defendant will be deported to Mexico at the end of his sentence.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court, during the course of an undercover investigation, Homeland Security Investigations learned that Marco Ortiz-Barajas, Angel Zamudio-Martinez, and Jose Luis Chavez-Morfin were planning to unload a shipment of marijuana at a Gainesville warehouse. As soon as the tractor trailer arrived at the warehouse, law enforcement executed a search warrant. Under the cilantro, peppers, and other green vegetables, law enforcement located and seized 1,572 pounds of marijuana. The approximate street value of the marijuana seized is $3,144,000.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.com. Additional information can be found at www.DrugFree.org. In May 2012, the Partnership at Drugfree.org released the findings of a new, national study entitled “The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study.” This study, which tracks drug use and attitude trends among high-school aged teens in America, revealed some troubling findings. Most notably, it found that in 2011 marijuana use among teens rose over the preceding three years, with an especially sharp rise in past-month, heavy use (i.e., 20 or more times in the past 30 days) of the drug. Heavy, past-month use of marijuana saw an 80 percent increase among U.S. teens since 2008.
This case was investigated by HSI and members of the Gainesville-Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad. The agencies involved with the arrests include the Hall County Sheriff’s SWAT Team, Gainesville Police Department and Hall County Sheriff’s Office uniform patrol divisions, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, FBI Safe Streets Task Force, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Georgia State Patrol, and Georgia State Patrol Aviation Division.
Assistant United States Attorney Ellen V. Endrizzi prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.