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Monday, Jan 28 2013 04:02 PM

Three federal defendants in court Monday for marijuana cultivation operations


Two marijuana cultivators entered guilty pleas and one cultivator was sentenced Monday. All three federal defendants were involved in marijuana cultivation operations in Kern County.

Andres Munoz Villa, 42, of Michoacán, Mexico, pleaded guilty to possession of a gun in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime for a marijuana cultivation operation in the Burnt Canyon area of the Sequoia National Forest. According to court documents, on Aug. 24, 2011 law enforcement officers found Munoz guarding 2,953 marijuana plants that he helped tend.

Munoz is scheduled to be sentenced April 8 and faces a 5-year prison term and a $250,000 fine.

Munoz's co-defendant, Cirrilo Gutierrez-Garcia, pleaded guilty and was sentenced July 9 2012 to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Rufino Orozco Martinez, 32, of Arvin, pleaded guilty to conspiring to cultivate, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 920 marijuana plants that were grown on private ranch land in Kern County. According to court documents, in August 2012 law enforcement officers executed a search warrant and seized three pounds of processed marijuana and an assault rifle from the ranch.

Orozco is scheduled to be sentenced April 22 and faces a mandatory prison term of five years and a maximum prison term of 40 years, along with a fine of up to $5 million.

Mairo Correa García, 19, an undocumented immigrant from Michoacán, Mexico, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiring to cultivate 454 marijuana plants in the Fay Canyon area of the Canebrake Ecological Reserve.

- Office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Eastern District of California

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