Drug Enforcement Administration

San Francisco

Christopher Nielsen, Special Agent in Charge

October 04, 2012

Contact: Casey Rettig

Phone Number: (415) 436-7994

Five Men Indicted For Agricultural Marijuana Grow In Stanislaus County

San Joaquin River diverted to irrigate marijuana cultivation operation

FRESNO, Calif. - Five men were indicted today for growing marijuana on agricultural land in Stanislaus County, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today.

Thounethepmith Vongsenekeo, 56; Sam Kounhavong, 50; Senghachanh Boungnavong, 33; all of Fresno; Phanetavanh Southammavong, 43; and Symery Saykganya, 56, both of Modesto, are charged with conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana plants, cultivating the plants, and possessing them with the intent to distribute.

According to court documents and proceedings, the men were found at a marijuana grow site in a rural area along the San Joaquin River near Newman. Agents eradicated 907 marijuana plants and seized a firearm from the site. One of the men admitted he was the security guard for the operation.

The case was investigated by federal agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, a multi-agency drug task force in Modesto. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting this case.

The defendants are scheduled to appear in federal court for arraignment on Friday, October 5, 2012. If convicted of the drug crimes, the men face a mandatory minimum prison term of five years and a maximum term of 40 years in prison, and a $5 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will 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.
The allegations in the indictment are only accusations and all persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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