News and Press Releases

kansas man sentenced for conspiracy to grow marijuana

thousands of plants found in buchanan, clinton counties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. B Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Mexican national was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to grow thousands of marijuana plants in two large plots near Gower, Mo.

Serafin Rodriguez Gonzalez, 25, of Kansas City, Kan., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner to seven years and three months in federal prison without parole. Gonzalez pleaded guilty on June 2, 2011.

On July 26, 2010, with the assistance of 14 law enforcement agencies and more than 80 officers, law enforcement agents executed federal search warrants for two suspected marijuana growing sites in Buchanan County, Mo., and Clinton County, Mo. There were approximately 4,000 growing marijuana plants at the Buchanan County location and approximately 3,000 growing marijuana plants at the Clinton County location. At each location, officers also found a campsite with two tents and a tarp-covered living area.

Co-defendant Juan Francisco Garcia Palomares, 45, a citizen of Mexico residing in Kansas City, Mo., purchased equipment and supplies for the operation and delivered them to the two camps. Palomares pleaded guilty to his role in the marijuana-growing conspiracy on June 24, 2011 and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 2, 2012.

Law enforcement officers arrested Palomares when they executed a search warrant at a trailer at Airy Acres Mobile Home Park in Gower on July 26, 2010. Inside the trailer, officers seized a number of items associated with the manufacture of marijuana. At the same time, two additional teams of officers executed search warrants at the two marijuana fields and camps.

Another team of officers was simultaneously conducting surveillance at Gonzalez’s residence. When agents knocked on the door of Gonzalez’s residence, an unknown Hispanic man ran out the back door and scaled a fence. Some of the agents attempted to follow him, while others searched the residence and found Gonzalez in an upstairs bedroom. Agents saw marijuana and other items associated with the manufacture of marijuana in plain view inside the residence and Gonzalez was arrested.

After obtaining a Kansas state search warrant, agents found a number of related items in the residence, including approximately 10 pounds of marijuana seeds, approximately 40 pounds of marijuana in three large black trash bags, approximately five pounds of marijuana in multiple heat-sealed plastic bags, a loaded assault rifle, a 9 mm handgun, ammunition and approximately $3,000 in cash.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Johnson County, Kan., Sheriff=s Department, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff=s Department, the Clinton County, Mo., Sheriff=s Department, the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department, and the Independence, Mo., Police Department, with other agencies providing support.

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