Marijuana Cases Update
FRESNO, Calif. — Four marijuana cultivators were sentenced today in four separate large-scale marijuana cultivation cases involving private lands in Stanislaus, Fresno, and Tulare Counties, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.
Fresno/Alabama Drug Ring Member Sentenced (1:12-cr-38 AWI)
Herman Graves, 47, of Fresno, was sentenced eight months in custody (four months in prison and four months home detention) for conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana grown on South Marks Avenue in Fresno County. The marijuana had been designated as “medical” but was, in fact, destined for distribution in Birmingham, Ala.
This case is the product of an investigation by the DEA and IRS Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Birmingham, Ala., California Highway Patrol, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno Police Department, Birmingham Police Department, and the Madera County Narcotics Enforcement Team.
907 Marijuana Plants/Firearm Seized from Stanislaus County Riverside Grow
Sengphachanh Boungnavong, 34, of Fresno, was sentenced to two years in prison for conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 907 marijuana grown in Newman, California beside the San Joaquin River. Water was diverted from the San Joaquin River to irrigate the illegal cultivation operation. During the execution of a search warrant there, drug agents found Boungnavong at the cultivation site, along with four other men who have entered guilty pleas in this case. The agents found and seized 907 marijuana plants, a handgun, respirators, motion detectors, chemicals, fertilizers, and “medical” marijuana recommendations from a doctor who has been charged in another federal case with the unlawful distribution of other controlled substances. Marijuana is a prohibited Schedule I controlled substance under federal law.
This case was investigated by the DEA and Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, a multi-agency drug task force in Modesto.
1,313 Marijuana Plants/Firearms Seized from Tulare County Agricultural Grow
Carlos Adan Lupian-Lua, 26, of Michoacàn, Mexico, was sentenced to one year and seven months in prison for cultivating marijuana on agricultural land in Terra Bella. According to court records, drug agents discovered the cultivation operation after following a supplier to the property. The supplier had previously delivered equipment and material for other marijuana cultivation operations on public lands in Ventura, San Luis Obispo, and Kern Counties. During the execution of a federal search warrant at the Terra Bella property, agents seized 1,313 marijuana plants, two firearms, and arrested six people, including Lupian-Lua. The marijuana had a wholesale value of $1.5 million.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Tulare County and Ventura County Sheriff’s Offices.
816 Pounds Processed Marijuana Seized from Fresno County Agricultural Grow
Reney Bousangouane, 50, of Fresno, was sentenced today to one year of home detention for his involvement in a large marijuana cultivation operation on agricultural land on Armstrong Avenue in Fresno County. According to court documents, Bousangouane was involved in the cultivation and processing of more than 800 pounds of marijuana grown at a property leased by his brother, Shavane Bousangouane. Shavane Bousangouane was previously sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for his involvement in the cultivation operation. The property is the subject of pending civil forfeiture action initiated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar prosecuted the criminal cases and Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Khasigian is handling the forfeiture of the property referenced in the Bousangouane case.