News and Press Releases

"Two Men Plead Guilty to Manufacturing Marijuana and Possession of Firearms""

November 18, 2011

Yakima – Today, Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Santos Nemecio-Pantaleon, age 30, of Mexico, and Rigoberto Nemecio-Flores, age 21, of Mexico, plead guilty to manufacturing marijuana and possession of firearms in furtherance of the grow operation.

In August 2011, law enforcement received information concerning a suspected marijuana grow operation in the Oak Creek Wilderness area, near Naches, Washington. On August 10, 2011, officers arrived at the suspected grow site, announced their presence, and observed several marijuana plants. Rigoberto Nemecio-Florez was observed throwing a Glock firearm onto the ground as he attempted to flee from police. After a foot chase, Mr. Nemecio-Florez was apprehended in the grow site. Officers observed Santos Nemecio-Pantaleon flee into the wilderness. After an exhaustive search, officers were unable to locate Mr. Nemecio-Pantaleon. However, officers located a Remington, 12 gauge shotgun, which had belonged to Mr. Nemecio-Pantaleon. Mr. Nemecio-Pantaleon was apprehended the following day. Both men were determined to be illegal aliens.

Law enforcement officers conducted interviews and learned that the men had established the marijuana grow site for financial gain and that they possessed the firearms to protect the 3,156 marijuana plants. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the United States and the Defendants have agreed to recommend that the Court impose a sentence of 10 years imprisonment at the sentencing hearing scheduled for February 23, 2012.

Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said, "there is an inherent and obvious danger to the public when armed individuals attempt to take over public lands to grow and manufacture a controlled substance. Fortunately, this grow operation was discovered before someone was injured or killed."

This investigation was conducted by the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Washington State Patrol. This case was prosecuted by Tom Hanlon, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.


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