Tulare County Resident Pleads Guilty To Marijuana Cultivation Operation
FRESNO, Calif. — Baltazar Rodriguez, 45, of Terra Bella, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana grown on property where he resided, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
In pleading guilty, Rodriguez also acknowledged that he possessed a firearm in connection with the conspiracy. According to court records, law enforcement officers seized over 1,000 marijuana plants from 39.6 acres of farm land in Terra Bella where Baltazar Rodriguez resided with his family. Inside the Rodriguez residence, officers found a loaded, unregistered revolver in his bedroom, a digital scale commonly used to weigh controlled substances, and documents showing wire transfers of cash to Mexico. Rodriguez’s guilty plea follows the convictions and sentencing of the other five defendants.
Baltazar Rodriguez is scheduled for sentencing on December 15, 2014. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The actual sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Sheriff’s offices of Tulare, Kern, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties, and the Escondido Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.