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East Texas marijuana grower pleads guilty to possession with intent to distribute

BEAUMONT, Texas — A Pasadena, Texas, man pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal drug trafficking violations, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales, Eastern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Liberty County Sheriff's Office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Roberto Bahena-Garcia, 48, pleaded guilty April 23 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, before U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. Bahena-Garcia was indicted by a federal grand jury Jan. 25.

According to court documents, on Oct. 16, 2011, law enforcement officers received a tip that led them to a large outdoor and nascent indoor marijuana-growing operation in the rural area of Hull, Texas, in Liberty County. The investigation revealed more than 1,000 maturing marijuana plants on 225 acres on Private Road 2055. The operation included a trailer that was being outfitted with grow lights and heating/air conditioning for indoor cultivation of marijuana; a 12-gauge shotgun was also seized.

The investigation revealed that Bahena-Garcia had purchased the property on July 8, 2010. Local laborers were hired to make improvements to the property, including a cattle tank which irrigated the marijuana plants.

Bahena-Garcia faces a minimum of 10 years in federal prison at sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.

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