FRESNO, CA — Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Alejandro Castellanos, 21, of Oaxaca, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to possessing firearms furthering a marijuana cultivation conspiracy.
In pleading guilty to the gun charge, Castellanos acknowledged that he had also conspired with Carlos Martinez and others to grow 45,500 marijuana plants ranging from two to 13 feet tall in a cornfield in Madera. During a search of the property, drug agents found not only the marijuana plants but also two Colt 5.56 mm assault rifles in an outdoor processing area, along with more than 88 pounds of processed marijuana and 199 grams of marijuana seeds.
Castellanos is scheduled to be sentenced on March 5, 2012 by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill. Castellanos faces a mandatory sentence of five years in prison. Martinez was sentenced last week to four years and two months in prison following his conviction for the drug conspiracy. Both Castellanos and Martinez are subject to deportation upon completion of their prison terms.
This case is the product of an investigation conducted under the umbrella of Operation Trident by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team (MADNET), and Madera SWAT team. Operation Trident was a multi-agency marijuana enforcement effort in Madera, Fresno, and Tulare Counties in 2009 and 2010. Operation Trident focused on and succeeded in eradicating approximately 663,898 marijuana plants primarily from public lands in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and foothills in the Eastern District of California. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.