Five fight federal charges in pot-growing case; 7 others to plead guilty

The federal case against 12 men accused of clear-cutting public forestland to grow marijuana appears to be heading toward settlement, although five suspects continue to fight the charges.  Two defendants are scheduled for jury trial July 18, two others are scheduled for trial Sept. 12, and another — Bernabe Nunez-Guzman, a Green Bay man accused of being the ringleader of the group — is waiting for a trial date to be set.  Five defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing in September in U.S. District Court in Green Bay.  Two others are scheduled to change their pleas Wednesday.  Authorities say the 12 suspects lived in the forest while growing the marijuana, although nine of them were arrested at a home on the western edge of the Oneida Reservation, just east of Seymour, where they dried and prepared the harvested marijuana plants, authorities say.

At all of the sites, the pot growers had hacked down mature trees about 3 feet from the ground. They left the stumps and hauled all the logs and brush to the outskirts to form Coliseum-type walls around the grow areas.  Marijuana that was planted amid the stumps has been harvested or hauled away by law enforcement agents.  Authorities learned of the grow operations when a hiker came upon one of them.  Authorities put the site under surveillance and learned of the other sites as well as the house the suspects were using near Seymour and a storage garage near Bonduel. Investigators seized weapons, thousands of dollars and hundreds of pounds of dried or drying marijuana.

Confidential informants identified Nunez-Guzman, the former owner of a Green Bay flooring company, as the boss of the operation, according to the criminal complaint. Informants also identified defendant Raul Avila-Rodriguez as the supervisor for the marijuana-drying operations within the Seymour home, which was owned by Nunez-Guzman, the complaint says.  The criminal complaints do not spell out the respective roles of the other defendants in the operation. They are Adalberto Valencia, Genaro Avila-Rodriguez, Salvador Montez-Canchola, Jesus DelaTorre-Avila, Javier Navarro-Zaragoza, Uriel Perez-Aljandres, Gustavo Barragan-Mendoza, Jorge Perez-Hipolito, Armando Adame-Alvarado and Jose Sandoval-Mendoza.  Only Nunez-Guzman and Valencia were legally in the United States., lawyers in the case have said.

via :  Green Bay Press Gazette

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