Three Mexican nationals caught hiding almost 1,600 pounds of marijuana under cilantro, peppers and other green vegetables were sentenced to prison time Thursday. Following their sentences, each will be deported, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Marco Ortiz-Barajas, 19, Angel Zamudio-Martinez, 54, and Jose Luis Chavez-Morfin, 43, were convicted on June 29 after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said.
Chavez-Morfin was sentenced to five years, 10 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release, according to an emailed press release from Yates’ office. Zamudio-Martinez was sentenced to four years, two months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. Ortiz-Barajas was sentenced to three years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.
An undercover investigation revealed the three were planning to have the marijuana shipped, along with vegetables, to a Gainesville warehouse, Yates said.
But when the tractor-trailer arrived at the warehouse, law enforcement executed a search warrant and seized 1,572 pounds of marijuana. The approximate street value of the marijuana is $3,144,000, Yates said.
“Today’s sentences are a reminder that drug trafficking carries with it serious consequences and that no community is immune from its presence or its potentially destructive effects,” Yates said.
Several agencies participated in the investigation, including Homeland Security, the Gainesville-Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad and the GBI.