MAY 21 (SACRAMENTO) –Brandon A. Conley 31, of Stockton, was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez for growing marijuana and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. A jury found Conley guilty on February 15, 2013 after a three-day trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, between November of 2010 and February 2011, Conley operated a large-scale marijuana cultivation business inside a warehouse on S. California Street in Stockton. A federal search warrant was executed on the premises on February 15, 2012, and law enforcement agents found approximately 2,000 marijuana plants and another 1,500 starter plants (clones) in multiple grow rooms inside the warehouse. Additionally, a loaded pistol-grip 12 gauge shotgun and a loaded .22-caliber rifle were located inside a room used by the person who stayed there at night to guard the growing operation. Inside the warehouse, a “Notice to Law Enforcement” was posted on the front wall stating that this was a medical marijuana operation under California law and that there were no firearms on the premises. However, both propositions proved to be false.
According to evidence presented at trial, this was an attempt by a black-market for-profit grower of marijuana to shield his activity from law enforcement scrutiny. These growers sell their product in pound quantities to whoever will buy it, frequently selling to numerous marijuana dispensaries and brokers who sell to a variety of outlets in and out of state.
Evidence showed that Conley was also the subscriber to utilities at another suspected marijuana warehouse growing operation on Waterloo Road in Stockton. The excessive electrical usage at that warehouse was very similar to the S. California Street warehouse.This case was the product of an investigation by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the San Joaquin County Metropolitan Narcotics Task Force (METRO) and the Stockton Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Bender and Jeffrey Spivak prosecuted the case.