Federal Grand Jury Returns Indictments
OCT 08 -- SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that a federal grand jury returned three indictments charging five individuals with manufacturing marijuana and conspiring to manufacture marijuana. On July 29, 2010, a federal grand jury returned a separate indictment arising from the same operation charging eight other defendants with manufacturing marijuana and conspiring to manufacture marijuana.
All four indictments are part of Operation Cash Crop, a joint operation by federal, state, and local law enforcement to target major marijuana traffickers in Nevada County and neighboring areas. The lengthy investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement; the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department; the Placer County Sheriff’s Department; and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department. The joint investigation focused on both illegal narcotics transactions and illegal financial transactions. The investigation is continuing. Assistant United States Attorney Michael M. Beckwith is prosecuting the cases.
Charged today were Scott Blake Miller, 31, of Grass Valley; Damien Michael Baranowski, 37, of Nevada City; Michael James Taylor, 47, of Bali, Indonesia; Kawika Mark Madeiros, 27 of Nevada City; and Christian Carlson, 25 of Nevada City.
According to court documents, during the execution of 16 search warrants in three counties, law enforcement agents seized more than 4,100 marijuana plants, more than 200 pounds of processed marijuana, and several firearms. A number of the defendants were armed at the time of their arrest, and several of the defendants have prior felony convictions for narcotics offenses. Carlson was arrested in a marijuana grow with a firearm while on pre-trial release from an earlier arrest. He is currently facing charges for manufacturing marijuana in Southern California in 2009. Documents found at a number of the search locations show hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial transactions, and the interstate shipment of cash and narcotics.
The maximum statutory penalty for manufacturing or conspiring to manufacture marijuana is life in prison (with a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence), a $4 million fine, and a five-year to life term of supervised release. The charges in the indictments are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.