Sunday, December 11, 2011

Three Mexican Nationals Facing 10 Years Each For Wisconsin Marijuana Growing Operation In Federal Land

Six men were charged and three pleaded guilty for growing marijuana at the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin.

By H. Nelson Goodson
December 11, 2011

Clam Lake, WI - Three Mexican nationals have pleaded guilty to growing at least 9,000 marijuana plants at the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, six miles south of Clam Lake, announced John W. Vandreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. Vandreuil in a news release stated, that on November 28, Jorge Lopez-Ontiveros, 24, and Abraham Ramirez, 29, both Mexican nationals pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Madison for conspiring to manufacture marijuana. Another Mexican national, Cesar Tinoco, 21, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge on November 23.
Two other Mexican nationals, Jose Esqueda-Garcia, 19, and Moises Lopez-Ontiveros, 21, including a Minnesota man, Norberto Burciaga, of St. Paul are expected to plead guilty as well.
U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb will sentenced Tinoco on Jan. 31, Ramirez on Feb. 1, and Lopez-Ontiveros on Feb. 2, 2012. The three convicted men face up to 10 years each in a federal prison and deportation after serving their sentences.
Their marijuana growing operation was first discovered by hunters in November 2010. Feds, state, county and local authorities launched a monitoring and surveillance operation for months until the suspects returned to a campground.
More than 200 federal and state agents, deputy sheriff's and police raided the campground. Four of five suspects escaped capture, but were arrested a day later by Sawyer County deputy sheriff's as they headed to Minnesota.
Agencies involved included, Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; Ashland County Sheriff’s Department; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Forest Service; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Northwest Area Crime Unit (comprised of Sawyer, Douglas and Washburn County Sheriff's Departments and Superior Police Department); U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission.

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