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East Texas man indicted on federal drug trafficking violations

BEAUMONT, Texas — A Pasadena, Texas man was charged Jan. 25 with federal firearms and drug trafficking violations, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales, Eastern District of Texas. The investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Liberty County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Roberto Bahena-Garcia, 48, was indicted and charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Bahena-Garcia was arrested and made an initial appearance on Feb. 1, and was arraigned on Feb. 2 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin.

According to information presented in court, on Oct. 16, 2011, law enforcement officers received a tip that led them to a large outdoor and emerging indoor marijuana-growing operation in the rural area of Hull, Texas. The investigation revealed more than 1,000 maturing marijuana plants on 225 acres near Private Road 2055.

The marijuana-growing operation included a trailer that was being outfitted with grow lights, heating/air conditioning for indoor cultivation of marijuana and a 12-gauge shotgun. Further investigation revealed Bahena-Garcia purchased the property on July 8, 2010 and hired local laborers to make improvements to the property, which included a cattle tank from which the marijuana plants were irrigated.

If convicted, Bahena-Garcia faces up to life in federal prison and forfeiture of the property.

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Craft, Eastern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.