FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2008
Contact: Special Agent Eileen Zeidler
Eleven Defendants Plead Guilty in Operation
JUN 30 -- ( San Diego , CA )- Special Agent in Charge Ralph W. Partridge announced that eight subjects pled guilty to a felony Information on June 27, 2008 , in federal court in San Diego . The defendants, Thomas Swift, Kevin Kennedy, Robert Rocco, Steven Zufall, Lewis Jimenez, Jorge Morales, Jose Rodriguez-Parra and Randy Kennedy were charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana plants in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a) and 846. Defendant Rudy Tijerina also pled guilty to unlawfully using a communications facility in relation to the conspiracy in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 843(a); Glenn Swift and Gregory Swift pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 844(a). All defendants pleaded guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major subject to final acceptance by United States District Court Judge Jeffrey T. Miller.
“Operation Garden Keeper began after a concerned member of the community came forth and provided information to the DEA and JUDGE unit” said Special Agent in Charge Partridge, “Citizens have the right to be protected in their neighborhoods; they also have an obligation to take positive steps to afford those protections.”
All the defendants were arrested following the execution of federal search warrants at residences
and grow locations in Vista , Fallbrook, Ramona and Valley Center , California . On April 14, 2008, enforcement personnel from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the San Diego County Jurisdictions Unified for Drug and Gang Enforcement (JUDGE) unit executed search warrants at four grow locations following a year long investigation. Enforcement personnel found sophisticated indoor marijuana growing operations at these four locations with a total of approximately 6,847 marijuana plants. According to court documents, Thomas Swift and Kevin Kennedy owned or controlled the four residences that contained these indoor marijuana growing operations. The DEA also filed a civil complaint for forfeiture related to the grow locations in Vista , Fallbrook, Ramona and Valley Center . As part of the plea agreements Thomas Swift and Kevin Kennedy agreed to the forfeiture of the marijuana grow house locations at 818 Ora Avo, Vista, California; 2585 Rainbow Valley Blvd., Fallbrook ,California ; 16201 Swartz Canyon Road , Ramona , California ; and 9411 Vista Aleta, Valley Center, California . Additionally, Thomas Swift, Kevin Kennedy, Robert Rocco, Steven Zufall, Glenn Swift and Gregory Swift agreed to the forfeiture of $30,767 in U.S. Currency, a Chevrolet Truck, a Chevrolet Corvette, a 1995 Mastercraft Maristar 225 VRS Boat and a boat trailer. Thomas Swift and Kevin Kennedy were further advised that San Diego Gas & Electric would be seeking restitution for the theft of electricity at the marijuana grow locations.
Sentencing of the defendants is scheduled September 29, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. before United States District Court Judge Jeffrey T. Miller.