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Merced County Man Pleads Guilty in Marijuana Cultivation Conspiracy

FRESNO, CA -- United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams announced today that Juvenal Paredes Sanchez, 36, of Merced County, pleaded guilty today to using a communication facility (cellular phone) in furtherance of a marijuana cultivation and distribution conspiracy.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Merced Mariposa High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, composed of members of the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office, California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, California State Parole, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorneys Yasin Mohammad and Kathleen A. Servatius are prosecuting the case.

At the time of his arrest on August 28, 2010, Sanchez was residing on a farm in Merced County that was being used to cultivate approximately 48,000 marijuana plants under the guise of corn cultivation as part of a large marijuana distribution conspiracy. Sanchez admitted in open court that he utilized a cellular telephone with the intent to facilitate that criminal conspiracy.

Sanchez is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on June 20, 2011. He is facing a maximum prison term of four years along with a fine up to $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.


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