jury convicts mexican national of marijuana, illegal firearm
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Mexican national has been convicted by a federal trial jury of his role in a conspiracy to grow marijuana in a field in Cameron, Mo., and of illegally possessing a firearm.
Edulio Perez, 50, a citizen of Mexico, was found guilty on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010, of all three counts contained in an Oct. 21, 2010, superseding indictment. Perez was found guilty of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.
Perez was arrested on Sept. 14, 2009, when law enforcement officers discovered him and co-defendants Sirio Medina, 38, also a citizen of Mexico, and Alfonso Cabrera-Verdugo, 61, of Compton, Calif., at a marijuana field near N.W. Kenney Drive and Center Road in Cameron. A total of 651 marijuana plants were discovered at the property and destroyed.
Sheriff’s deputies had been conducting surveillance of the property, and marijuana in the field was detected by helicopter flights. On Sept. 14, 2009, Missouri State Highway Patrol officers followed a path through the woods that led to a shelter, which was being used to dry marijuana plants. The officers continued to follow the path until it led to Perez and Medina, who were placing a tarp over several marijuana plants hanging on a rope. When they were ordered to get on the ground, Perez ran. One of the officers caught him and attempted to restrain him, but Perez continued to fight to get away. Finally, after several attempts to escape, Perez gave up and was arrested.
At the location where Perez was seen drying the marijuana, officers found a Marlin .22-caliber rifle, which had been reported stolen.
Officers also arrested Cabrera-Verdugo, who was at the property’s residence. Inside the residence, which did not have electricity or running water, officers found Vienna sausages and cans of tuna in the kitchen; beer cans were strewn about the house.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City deliberated for approximately 30 minutes before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner, ending a trial that began Monday, Dec. 13, 2010.
Cabrera-Verdugo and Medina have pleaded guilty to their roles in the marijuana conspiracy and await sentencing.
Under federal statutes, Perez is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life imprisonment, plus a fine up to $2.5 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin G. Davids and Matthew Hiller. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Caldwell County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.