SEP 19 (BOISE, Idaho) – Five Mexican nationals were arrested last week by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service in connection with a large marijuana growing operation on public lands.
According to the criminal complaints filed, Juan Pablo Villasenor-Villa, 28, Marcos Solano-Farias, 30, Carlos Cerda-Carpio, 40, and Jose Misael Ayala-Talavera, 19, and Mariah D. Villasenor-Rodriguez, 21, of Caldwell, Idaho, knowingly and intentionally manufactured, distributed, or possessed with intent to distribute at least 100 marijuana plants. Additionally, the complaints allege that three of the defendants possessed or used a firearm during or in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Preliminary hearings are set for 9:30 a.m. on September 27, 2013, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale at the federal courthouse in Boise.
On September 11, 2013, law enforcement conducted enforcement actions on outdoor marijuana grow located near Rabbit Creek in Boise County, Idaho. Solano-Farias, Cerda-Carpio, and Ayala-Talavera were apprehended by law enforcement at a camp located approximately 100 meters from the marijuana grow site. According to the complaints, investigators found and seized two semi-automatic handguns, an SKS or AK-47 type rifle in the sleeping area of the camp, and several hundred marijuana plants that had already been harvested from the growing operation. Investigators also located and eradicated 785 live marijuana plants. Villasenor-Villa and Villasenor-Rodriguez were arrested on September 13 in Caldwell.
During the course of the investigation of the Rabbit Creek grow, investigators learned of another grow site at Beaver Creek, also off Highway 21, where, yesterday, investigators removed over 4,800 marijuana plants from the dispersed grow site.
If convicted, the defendants face at least five years in federal prison, a maximum fine of $5 million, and at least four years of supervised release. Those who possessed the firearms face a consecutive five year sentence.
The case is being investigated by 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.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.