Merced County Men Plead Guilty to Growing Marijuana in Madera County
FRESNO, Calif . — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams announced that Juan Garcia-Galvez, 38, of Merced, and Praxedis Barragan, aka Jorge Barragan-Morales, 40, of Winton, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.
According to the plea agreement, in 2010, Garcia-Galvez and Barragan conspired with Ramon Torres-Arreola, aka Ramon Torrez, aka Alejandro Torres-Arida, 39, formerly of Livingston, and others to grow marijuana on private ranch land in the Bailey Flats area of Raymond in Madera County. According to court documents, law enforcement officers eradicated 3,451 marijuana plants from the cultivation site. The same area has been the site of other marijuana cultivation operations in the past. Law enforcement officers eradicated 1,228 marijuana plants from there in 2009 and 3,847 marijuana plants from there in 2010. These cultivation operations were all conducted without the permission or knowledge of innocent landowners.
Garcia-Galvez and Barragan are scheduled for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on April 16, 2012. They face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum term of life, and a $4 million fine. Co-defendant Torres‑Arreola pleaded guilty on January 9, 2012 and will be sentenced on April 4, 2012. All three men are subject to deportation to Mexico.
This case is the product of an investigation conducted under the umbrella of Operation Trident by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Department of Homeland Security’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, the Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team (MADNET), and the Madera SWAT team. Operation Trident was a multi-agency marijuana enforcement effort conducted in Madera, Fresno, and Tulare Counties in 2009 and 2010. To date, 70 federal defendants have been convicted as a result of Operation Trident, which eradicated 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.
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