SACRAMENTO, CA — Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that a federal grand jury returned a two-count second superseding indictment on Thursday charging 14 defendants with a marijuana cultivation conspiracy.
The superseding indictment charges five new defendants not named in previous indictments and is related to an indictment filed in 2010 charging 14 defendants with another large-scale marijuana cultivation conspiracy. Jose Jesus Madriz Aguilar, 45, of Livingston,, is the lead defendant in both indictments. This brings the total to 27 defendants charged in this investigation.
According to court documents, the DEA and the Shasta County Sheriff's Office began this investigation in July 2010, when law enforcement searched a suspected marijuana cultivation site on public lands located off of Wild Turkey Road in Ono. Officers encountered Francisco Zepeda Pulido, 27, of Colima Mexico, at the grow site. Two other adult Hispanic males fled the area. Pulido was arrested for manufacturing marijuana and approximately 8,600 marijuana plants were seized.
Additionally, Bernardo Laredo, 33, of Mexico City, Mexico, was subsequently arrested after federal search warrants were served on July 1, 2010 in the Arbuckle Gulch area, and agents seized approximately 15,000 marijuana plants.
As a result of the Pulido and Laredo's arrests, law enforcement learned of a marijuana trafficking organization involving Aguilar and Ronald Eugene Reeves, 52, of Lakehead, who is a trusted member of Aguilar’s organization.
Through investigative efforts, officers identified suspected marijuana grow locations believed to be connected to Aguilar and Reeves in U.S. Forest Service lands. On July 26, 2011, law enforcement searched a grow location in the Mendocino National Forest and discovered four marijuana grow sites. As officers approached the location, one individual, identified as an adult Hispanic male, fled the grow site and was not apprehended. Approximately 8,437 marijuana plants and one loaded .38 caliber handgun were seized from the location; no arrests were made.
On August 22, 2011, law enforcement served federal search warrants related to the investigation at the following residences:
1) 2099 Aspenglen Way, Livingston, CA - Jose Jesus Madriz Aguilar’s residence;
2) 21138 Big Oak Lane, Lakehead, CA - Ronald Eugene Reeves’s residence;
3) 1980 Jewel Lane, Redding, CA - marijuana stash/processing location.
As a result of the searches, officers seized approximately 2,612 marijuana plants and 60 pounds of processed marijuana from the residence on Big Oak Lane. Additionally, agents seized approximately 400 pounds of processed marijuana from the residence on Jewel Lane.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Shasta County Sheriff's Office, and the North State Marijuana Investigations Team. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel S. McConkie is prosecuting the case.
The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of manufacturing or conspiring to manufacture marijuana is a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.