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Four Suspects Charged in Marijuana Grow Operation Concealed within Boise County’s Forest Land

SEP 29 (BOISE, Idaho) –– Carlos Avalos-Cervantes, 30, and Martin Diaz-Lara, 26, both Mexican nationals currently living in Walla Walla, Washington, were arrested in the remote mountain area early in the morning on September 23, 2015, on charges of conspiracy and manufacturing with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, and illegal aliens in possession of firearms.   Two other individuals, Rogelio Arevalo-Villasenor, 23, a Mexican national living in Caldwell, Idaho, and David Becerra-Saucedo, 41, a Mexican national residing in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, were later arrested on September 24 and September 26 on the conspiracy and manufacture with intent to distribute marijuana charges. A federal complaint formalizing the charges was filed in United States District Court on September 24, 2015.

“These armed drug traffickers no longer pose a danger to the environment or those who enjoy Idaho's pristine public lands,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.

The complaint alleges that beginning in about April 2015, and extending up until the time of their arrests, Avalos-Cervantes, Arevalo-Villasenor, Becerra-Saucedo, and Diaz-Lara conspired and manufactured several thousand marijuana plants with the intent to distribute the controlled substance. The marijuana plants were found in a remote, timbered canyon in the forest north of Banks, in Boise County, Idaho. The complaint also alleges that Avalos-Cervantes and Diaz-Lara possessed firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes, and were further unlawfully in possession of handguns being Mexican nationals who had entered the United States illegally.

The maximum penalty for manufacturing more than 1,000 marijuana plants is not less than 10 years and up to life in prison and a $10,000,000 fine. The maximum penalty for possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes is not less than five years imprisonment consecutive to any other penalty, and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for illegal alien in possession of a firearm is 10 years imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment. A complaint is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The arrests and complaints are the result of a joint investigation and cooperative law enforcement efforts of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Nampa Police Department Special Investigations Unit (SIU). Other agencies include Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Boise County Sheriff’s Office, Boise Police Department, Gooding County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho National Guard – Counterdrug Support Office, Meridian Police Department, Milton-Freewater Police Department, Oregon State Police, Power County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Police Department, United States Forest Service, Valley County Sheriff’s Office, Walla Walla Police Department, Washington State Patrol.

The OCDETF program is a federal multi agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.

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