Three Mexican Nationals Sentenced For Growing Marijuana On Public Lands And Possession Of Firearms
BOISE — Jose Misael Ayala-Talavera, 20, Marcos Solano-Farias, 31, and Carlos Cerda-Carpio, 40, Mexican nationals, were sentenced today on charges of conspiring to unlawfully manufacture with intent to distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants, illegal possession of a firearm, and damage to government property, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. The defendants appeared today before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Boise.
Ayala-Talavera was sentenced to 111 months in prison for conspiracy to unlawfully manufacture with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and injury to government property.
Solano-Farias was sentenced to 30 months in prison for conspiracy to unlawfully manufacture with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and injury to government property.
Cerda-Carpio was sentenced to 27 months in prison for conspiracy to unlawfully manufacture with intent to distribute marijuana, and for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
The defendants will forfeit all cash assets derived by them or other co-defendants from the criminal offenses and any firearms unlawfully used or possessed.
The sentences arose out of two outdoor marijuana growing operations in the Boise National Forest, a few miles from Highway 21 in Boise County. The three men were apprehended by law enforcement at a camp located in 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 also found a related grow site at Beaver Creek, where they removed 5,463 marijuana plants.
Juan Pablo Villasenor-Villa, the organizer and leader, was convicted by jury trial in November 2014, of continuing criminal enterprise, manufacturing 1,000 or more marijuana plants with intent to distribute, possession of more than 100 kilos of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and injury to government property. He will be sentenced February 4, 2015.
“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, 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 sentences demonstrate 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 a joint investigation result of 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.