MADISON, WI. -- John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that six men have been charged today in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court with manufacturing marijuana. The criminal complaint alleges that the defendants cultivated a large marijuana grow operation in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, over a several acre area that is located in Ashland County, approximately 25 miles northwest of Park Falls, Wisconsin.
The following individuals were charged:
Esqueda-Garcia, 19, a citizen of Mexico
Norberto Burciago, 40, St. Paul, MN
Cesar Omar Tinoco, 21, a citizen of Mexico
Moises Lopez-Ontiveros, 21, a citizen of Mexico
Jorge Lopez-Ontiveros, 24, a citizen of Mexico
Abraham Ramirez, 29, a citizen of Mexico
“Unfortunately, there are criminals who take advantage of the remote and heavily wooded nature of our national forests to cultivate marijuana on a large-scale basis. Visitors to U.S. forest land who come upon marijuana grow operations should leave the area and immediately and report their observations to law enforcement authorities,” United States Attorney Vaudreuil said.
Approximately 175 federal, state and local law enforcement agents were involved in the August 10, 2011 removal of marijuana plants and processing of the site for evidence. The site included a campsite for individuals who cultivated the grow operation. Loaded firearms were found at the campsite.
The defendants made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison today, and were ordered detained pending an arraignment hearing scheduled for August 19, at 9:00 a.m.
The charges against the defendants are the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation; Ashland County Sheriff’s Department; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); U.S. Forest Service; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Northwest Area Crime Unit (comprised of Sawyer, Douglas and Washburn County Sheriffs’ Departments and Superior Police Department); U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. The prosecution of the case will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson.
The public is reminded that a charge is merely an accusation and that the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Parents and their children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of legal pharmaceutical drugs and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.