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Fresno Man Sentenced for Marijuana Cultivation that Diverted Water from the San Jaoquin River

SEP 09 (FRESNO, Calif.) – United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii sentenced Sam Kounhavong, aka Inpong Kounhavong, 52, of Fresno, today to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for his involvement in a large-scale marijuana cultivation operation in Stanislaus County that was irrigated by water diverted from the San Joaquin River. Judge Ishii also ordered Kounhavong to register as a drug offender.

In March 2014, Kounhavong pleaded guilty to conspiring to cultivate 907 marijuana plants grown in Newman. Water from the San Joaquin River had been diverted to irrigate the marijuana plants. At the grow site, agents found a firearm, respirators, motion detectors, chemicals, fertilizers, makeshift tents on plywood platforms  - some elevated, a guard dog, and a sign that said: “‘Hey You’ ‘Yeah You’ Keep Out.”

The case was the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, a multi-agency drug task force in Modesto. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar prosecuted the case.

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