Drug Enforcement Administration

San Francisco

Christopher Nielsen, Special Agent in Charge

July 15, 2011

Contact: Casey Rettig

Phone Number: (415) 436-7994

Federal Charges For Eight Kern County Marijuana Growers

FRESNO, CA -- - United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that eight people were indicted yesterday for conspiring to cultivate marijuana in Kern County:

  • Bernardino Garcia, 45, of Farmersville;
  • Martha M. Lopez, 44, of Farmersville;
  • Maria G. Rivera, 47, of Exeter;
  • Jose B. Robles, 64, of Visalia;
  • Jorge M. Garrido, 24, of Arvin;
  • Francisco G. Pedraza, 24, (residence unknown);
  • Rigoberto C. Martinez, 28, of Exeter; and
  • Jose Aguilar Chavez, 36, of Visalia.

According to court documents, the defendants were arrested on June 15, 2011 while working at a Kern County marijuana cultivation site and containing approximately 2,462 marijuana plants. Court documents indicate that medical marijuana recommendations were posted at the site. The indictment also contains a forfeiture count addressing all property used in the commission of the offense and all proceeds of the offense. The defendants were scheduled to be arraigned in Fresno before United States Magistrate Judge Sandra Snyder.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Kern County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Kevin P. Rooney is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison. The actual sentences, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

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

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