News Release
August 13, 2010
Casey McEnry

Kern County Man Indicted For Marijuana Cultivation On Public Land
Result of Operation Trident That Targeted Growers in Three-County Area

AUG 13
(FRESNO, Calif.) — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams, announced today that Rafael Perez-Pena, 42, of Shafter, Calif., was indicted today by a federal grand jury sitting in Fresno in connection with Operation Trident, an intensive multi-agency marijuana eradication effort in Madera, Fresno, and Tulare Counties that commenced in 2009, and is coordinated by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Operation Trident has resulted in the eradication of approximately 487,900 marijuana plants, primarily from public lands in the Sierra foothills and mountains.

Perez-Pena was charged with five counts of conspiring to manufacture or cultivate 1,000 or more marijuana plants, manufacturing marijuana, possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm, and destruction of public lands and resources. The narcotics offenses all carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum term of life in prison, as well as a fine of up to $4 million. The firearms and destruction of lands charges each carry a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

While investigations of marijuana cultivation continue under the Operation Trident umbrella, 58 federal defendants have been indicted to date on federal criminal charges, and 25 have been convicted. In the course of these cases, law enforcement agents have seized about 75,809 marijuana plants, 104 pounds of processed marijuana, 6.9 pounds of marijuana seeds, two kilograms of cocaine, three pounds of methamphetamine, 17 firearms, and four vehicles.

The federal criminal cases resulted from the coordinated efforts of multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Madera County Sheriff’s Office, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, the California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), ICE Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE), California Department of Fish and Game, Central Valley HIDTA, and the Central Valley Marijuana Investigation Team (CVMIT). Assistance was also provided by the Fresno County, Madera County and Tulare County District Attorney’s Offices. Additional federal prosecutions are contemplated upon completion of ongoing investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.

The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.