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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mexican National Sentenced as Leader and Organizer of Marijuana

BOISE — Juan Pablo Villasenor-Villa, 25, of Michoacan, Mexico, was sentenced yesterday to 288 months in prison for continuing criminal enterprise involving the unlawful growing of thousands of marijuana plants, and possession of large quantities of harvested marijuana with intent to distribute it, as well as damage to federal public lands, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.  Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill also ordered Villasenor-Villa to pay $33,265 in restitution, to pay a $500 special assessment, and to serve five years of supervised release following his release from prison.  Villasenor-Villa, the organizer and leader of two marijuana growing operations, was convicted on November 4, 2014, following a one-week jury trial.

“This lengthy sentence reflects the seriousness of this offense and size of these marijuana operations, the need for just punishment, and especially the need for deterrence,” said Olson.  “If other people intend to be involved in this type of abuse of public lands, they need to consider the consequences of a sentence like this.”

Villasenor-Villa is the final defendant to be sentenced in connection with the two marijuana growing operations discovered in the Boise National Forest in September 2013.  The court previously sentenced the other participants who were working in the marijuana growing operation under the direction of Villasenor-Villa.  Jose Ayala-Talavera was sentenced to 111 months for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance, injury to government property, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  Marcos Solano-Farias was sentenced to 30 months for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and injury to government property.  Carlos Cerda-Carpio was sentenced to 27 months for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.  Gilberto Duran Contreras was sentenced to 30 months for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance and injury to government property.  Mariah Villasenor-Rodriguez, Villasenor-Villa’s wife, was sentenced to 21 months for possession of more than 100 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute.

The two outdoor marijuana growing operations were located in the Boise National Forest, a few miles from Highway 21 in Boise County.  Ayala-Talavera, Solano-Farias, and Cerda-Carpio were captured by law enforcement officers at a camp located next to a marijuana grow site on Rabbit Creek, with 1,411 live plants, as well as harvested marijuana.  According to the plea agreements, investigators found and seized two semi-automatic handguns, an AK-47 type rifle in the camp, and several hundred marijuana plants that had already been harvested from the growing operation.  Investigators located and eradicated all live marijuana plants.  Law enforcement officers also found a related grow site at Beaver Creek, where they removed 5,463 marijuana plants.  Duran-Contreras was arrested near this site.  Investigators recovered harvested marijuana in one-pound, heat-sealed packages from Villasenor-Villa’s house and from a relative’s house in Caldwell, Idaho.   They also recovered $68,500 in large bills of U.S. currency during the arrest of his wife and co-defendant, Mariah Villasenor-Rodriguez on September 12, 2013, in Caldwell.

“Vigorous prosecution of those who grow illegal drugs on federal land is a high priority of this office,” said Olson.  “Those who operate marijuana grows not only traffic in illegal drugs, but they also damage wildlife and the environment and, through their possession and possible use of firearms, they pose a significant danger to all Idahoans who seek to use our national forests for hiking, hunting and recreation purposes.  Drugs and guns are a dangerous and often violent combination.  Today’s sentence demonstrates that the federal agents and federal prosecutors will carefully target those who use or possess firearms for unlawful drug businesses.”

The case is the result of an investigation through the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which included the cooperative law enforcement efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Land Management, and United States Forest Service, with assistance from the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Boise County Sheriff’s Office, Boise Police Department, City/County Narcotics Unit (Canyon County Sheriff’s Office and Caldwell Police Department), the Idaho National Guard, Meridian Police Department, Nampa Police Department, Spokane Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Washington State Police.

The OCDETF program is a federal, multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.

Photo 1168: Miles of irrigation tubing of several dimensions were removed from the Rabbit Creek grow, along with eradicated marijuana plants.  This photo shows one load hauled out with long-lines by helicopter.

exhibit

Photo 1189:  A forest road at the trail entrance in the Boise National Forest near Little Beaver Creek.  Juan Pablo Villasenor-Villa provides supplies for marijuana workers and gives them directions.

exhibit 1189

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Updated February 11, 2015