Contact: Joel B. Casey
Assistant United States Attorney
Tel: (207) 945-0373
Bangor, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that Moises
Soto, 53, formerly of Corpus Christi, Texas, was sentenced yesterday to 4 years in prison for
conspiracy to manufacture more than 1,000 marijuana plants and harboring an illegal alien. Soto
pled guilty to the charges on July 30, 2013.
Soto’s conviction stems from his involvement in large, sophisticated marijuana growing
operations in Penobscot and Washington counties that operated between 2006 and 2009. In late
2007, just weeks after becoming a naturalized U.S. Citizen, Soto was asked by coconspirator
Malcolm French to obtain illegal alien migrant workers to process marijuana that had been
harvested from Township 37 in Washington County. The defendant agreed to do so and located
three migrant workers in Florida. The workers were told they would be planting Christmas
trees. After they were brought to Maine, Soto told them that they would be processing
marijuana. The migrant workers did not speak English. Soto periodically checked in on their
work and translated instructions to them from other members of the conspiracy. In 2008 and
2009, the defendant obtained additional illegal alien migrant workers to grow and process
marijuana, checked in on their work and translated for them.
On September 22, 2009, law enforcement agents discovered the marijuana grow in
Township 37 with several of the migrant workers tending the plants. The workers and two
American coconspirators -- Rodney Russell and Scott MacPherson -- fled into the woods to
avoid arrest. Investigators seized 2,943 marijuana plants. The workers were brought by Robert
Berg and Scott MacPherson to Berg’s residence in Corinna, Maine. Thereafter, Soto arranged
for an alien smuggler, or “coyote,” to pick up the workers and drive them out of state. Soto then
fled to Mexico where he remained until turning himself in to authorities in Texas in
2013. Agents located three of the workers three years later and they cooperated with the
In January 2014, Malcolm French, Rodney Russell, Kendall Chase, and Haynes
Timberland, Inc., were convicted of related charges following a jury trial and await
sentencing. Robert Berg, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the operation of
the marijuana grow in January 2014.
The investigation was conducted by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency with
assistance from the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division and U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.