FEB 14 (FRESNO, Calif.) —A federal grand jury in Fresno returned an indictment today charging Marcos Antonio Robles, 36, of Fresno, for his involvement in a marijuana cultivation operation in Mendota, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
Robles is the 83rd defendant federally indicted in Operation Mercury. Unlike previous operations that targeted marijuana grown on public land, Operation Mercury targeted agricultural land in the counties of Merced, Madera, Kings, Tulare, Kern and Fresno. Beginning in March 2012 to the present, 19 federal Operation Mercury defendants have been convicted and sentenced to prison. The overall operation resulted in the seizure of nearly half a million marijuana plants, 38 firearms, and $67,445 in cash.
U.S. Attorney Wagner stated: “In this case, marijuana cultivation activities shifted from agricultural land in Mendota to the indoor cultivation of marijuana involving the theft of electricity.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.
According to court documents, in July 2012, Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies found 1,875 marijuana plants growing on a property on Whitesbridge Road in Mendota. The deputies advised the occupants that the marijuana grow was in violation of federal law and Fresno County Ordinance 11-008. In August, the DEA obtained a search warrant for the property and eradicated 959 marijuana plants. In January 2013, during a second search warrant, agents found 657 marijuana plants growing inside the residence, powered by the unlawful diversion of electricity. Robles was found during the execution of both warrants.
If convicted, Robles faces a 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine, and is subject to deportation. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. Robles is scheduled to be arraigned on February 15, 2013, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto. The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.