BOISE, ID. -- Francisco Cardona-Rodriguez, 38, of Rio Grande City, Texas, was sentenced in federal court December 12, 2011 to 37 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to manufacture/distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants. Cardona-Rodriguez was also ordered to forfeit assets. He pled guilty to the charge on October 3, 2011.
According to court documents, Cardona-Rodriguez and three co-defendants conspired to grow more than 1,000 marijuana plants on public lands in Oregon and California for the purpose of selling and distributing marijuana. The case was initiated when Oregon law enforcement officers observed a vehicle parked at a remote location in eastern Oregon on a state highway next to creek drainage. The vehicle was occupied by Jose Cardona-Ramirez and Victoria Villa-Gonzalez, a husband and wife from Caldwell, Idaho. Villa-Gonzalez was the registered owner of the vehicle. Subsequently, a vehicle driven by Cardona-Ramirez with passenger Francisco Cardona-Rodriquez was followed to Franco-Lombera’s residence in Bieber, California. During a search of the residence, marijuana plants in the midst of being processed as well as packaged marijuana was seized. Two firearms, a pistol and a shotgun were also located and seized.
Co-conspirator Heber-Franco-Lombera, of Bieber, California, was sentenced on November 29, 2011, to 60 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Victoria Villa-Gonzalez will be sentenced on January 5, 2012; her husband, Jose Cardona-Ramirez, will be sentenced on January 19, 2012.
The investigation was the result of a joint investigation of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Land Management. Substantial cooperation was also provided by California Highway Patrol, Malheur County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office, Harney County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office, and Lassen County, Modoc County, and Shasta County (California) Sheriffs’ Offices.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.