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Three California men arrested on federal Utah warrants

Published June 17, 2013 6:41 pm

Trio tied to pot distribution operation.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Three defendants indicted in Utah in 2011 as part of an investigation into a large suspected marijuana distribution ring have been arrested in California and more than 1,400 plants confiscated.

The three men are among 10 residents of California and Utah residents who were indicted in U.S. District Court of Utah for conspiring, combining, confederating or agreeing to distribute marijuana in Utah and elsewhere from about June 2008 to September 2011. Nine of them, including the three just-arrested men, were also indicted for conspiring, combining, confederating or agreeing to manufacture the drug during the same period.

On June 11, one of the suspects, a 63-year-old man, was taken into custody at his home in mountainous Humboldt County, Calif. Officers seized more than 600 marijuana plants at the home, as well as two rifles and a shotgun, according to a news release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office.

The next morning, agents arrested a 32-year-old man at his home elsewhere in the same county. When officers searched his home, they seized 10 one-pound bags of processed pot, according to the news release. They also seized two vehicles and $7,900 in cash.

At the same time, other officers searched two storage units near a California airport that the 32-year-old had been renting and found 800 marijuana plants. They also seized several more vehicles at another home that the second man owned, the release adds.

A third suspect, a 34-year-old man, turned himself in to the U.S. Marshals in San Francisco on Monday.

"We looked for [the third man last week] but missed him," said Humboldt County Sheriff's Lt. Wayne Hanson. Word of the busts may have gotten out and he decided to turn himself in, Hanson said.

Law enforcement expect to make more arrests in Humboldt County as part of the investigation. Other suspects are expected to turn themselves in later this week, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah.

An indictment is not a formal charge or a finding of guilt. But if the men are successfully prosecuted, each count has a mandatory minimum 10 year sentence with the potential of life in prison, Rydalch said.

Two defendants who are still at large were also indicted for knowingly and intentionally engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise involving the distribution, conspiracy to distribute, and conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. That count would carry up to life in prison with a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence, Rydalch said.

The Davis Metro Narcotics Strike Force, which assisted the federal and California agencies, could not be reached for comment.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

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