Two Charged for Marijuana Growing Operation at Federal Wildlife Refuge
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two men were charged in federal court today, in separate but related cases, for their involvement in a marijuana-growing operation at a federal wildlife refuge in Howard County, Mo.
Carlos Vazguez, 26, and Rigaberto Canacho Reyes, 23, addresses unknown, were each charged with possessing 100 or more marijuana plants with the intent to distribute in separate criminal complaints filed in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo. Both Vazguez and Reyes remain in federal custody pending further proceedings.
According to affidavits filed in support of the federal criminal complaints, law enforcement officers discovered a large marijuana growing operation at the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Vazguez and Reyes were arrested at the site, approximately one mile from County Road 317 in Howard County.
The grow operation, the affidavit says, encompasses approximately five acres and includes five tents where marijuana was hung, dried, packaged and processed for delivery. At least three separate locations had marijuana growing, with plants approximately five to six feet tall. Several plants had been pruned and trimmed to allow the marijuana plants to grow larger and produce a maximum amount of raw marijuana.
The grow operation contained in excess of 500 marijuana plants in the ground, the affidavit says, in addition to cut plants drying in the tents, raw marijuana prepared for processing and in excess of 500 plants which had been processed (with the picked stalks laying on the ground).
A water system ran throughout the grow operation. According to the affidavit, black plastic tubing was observed on the ground. Large plastic containers were located to store water and supply the grow operation by utilizing the black plastic tubing running to each field. An area of the grow operation contained a large amount of fertilizer, bedding supplies, pruning devices and chemicals used in the growing and cultivation of marijuana. Two tents were located in the middle of the operation, which appeared to be the location where people would sleep and cook. There was a fire pit and sleeping bags in this area.
Vazguez was arrested within one of the areas that contained marijuana plants, the affidavit says. He allegedly had a large amount of marijuana in a tarp on his shoulder and appeared to be hauling the marijuana to one of the nearby processing tents.
Reyes was arrested as he walked along one of the paths that connected the many areas of the operation, the affidavit says. He allegedly was carrying marijuana plants.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Miller. It was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the East Central Drug Task Force and the Howard County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.