Federal Marijuana Case Update
FRESNO, Calif. — Baltazar Rodriguez was sentenced to 46 months in prison and Jose Cisneros Garcia was sentenced to eight months in prison today for their involvement in separate large-scale marijuana cultivation operations, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
Sentencing in Terra Bella Cultivation Operation (1:12-cr-318 LJO)
Following his guilty plea in October, Baltazar Rodriguez, 45, of Terra Bella, was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison for conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana grown on an agricultural parcel in Terra Bella. According to court records, law enforcement officers seized 1,313 marijuana plants from 39.6 acres of farm land in Terra Bella where Rodriguez resided with his family. Inside Rodriguez’s residence, officers found a loaded, unregistered revolver in Baltazar Rodriguez’s bedroom, a digital scale commonly used to weigh controlled substances, and documents showing wire transfers of cash to Mexico.
Rodriguez; his son, Jose Guadalupe Rodriguez, 20; Carlos Adan Lupian-Lua, 26; Jose Guadalupe Zavala-Ramos, 34; Juan Carlos Perez-Gonzales, 45, all of Michoacàn, Mexico; and Hector Quintero-Mercado, 36, of Jalisco, Mexico; were originally charged with narcotics and immigration offenses and entered guilty pleas. Baltazar Rodriguez was the last of these defendants to be sentenced. A defendant in a related case, Martin Rojas-Cuamba, 46, of Escondido, also previously pleaded guilty in a separate case to smuggling bulk cash derived from the Terra Bella operation. Rojas-Cuamba’s sentencing is set for January 20, 2015. Upon completion of his prison sentence, Baltazar Rodriguez is subject to deportation to Mexico.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the sheriff’s offices of Tulare, Kern, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties, and the Escondido Police Department.
Sentencing in Modesto Cultivation Operation (1:11-cr-339 AWI)
Jose Cisneros Garcia, (Cisneros), 55, of Modesto, was sentenced to eight months in prison for smuggling bulk cash derived from a marijuana cultivation operation on two residential parcels in Modesto that Cisneros owned. In sentencing Cisneros, Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii considered evidence that the cultivation operation involved 549 marijuana plants weighing over 3,000 pounds. Agents of the DEA and Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, a multi-agency drug task force in Modesto, conducted the investigation and seized not only marijuana but an assault weapon with 124 rounds of ammunition from an open detached garage at one of the two residential properties.
Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is handling the above prosecutions.