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Narcotics
11/20/2018

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Illegal alien from Mexico sentenced to 3 years in federal prison for conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute marijuana in Colorado

Defendant tended a large illegal marijuana grow operation in the San Isabel National Forest

DENVER — An illegal alien from Mexico was sentenced last week to serve three years in federal prison for conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants.

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn, District of Colorado; U.S. Forest Service Special Agent in Charge Kent Delbon; and Special Agent in Charge Steven W. Cagen, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Denver.   

Margarito Yepez-Sanchez, 25, an illegal alien from Mexico, was first charged by criminal complaint on Sept. 21, 2017.  He was indicted by a federal grand jury Oct. 11, 2017.  His guilty plea to conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute marijuana was accepted by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson on Aug. 10, 2018.  Yepez-Sanchez was sentenced by Judge Jackson Nov. 15.  Yepez-Sanchez appeared at the sentencing in custody and was remanded after the hearing concluded. 

According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, in August 2017, federal agents discovered an illegal marijuana grow operation in the San Isabel National Forest located in central Colorado.  On Sept. 20, 2017, agents and officers from multiple agencies executed a federal search warrant on the marijuana grow site.  The grow consisted of about 13,800 marijuana plants and at least 120 pounds of processed marijuana.  About 12 acres of federal lands were affected.

At the site, law enforcement discovered two sleeping areas constructed of cut pine timber as well as two kitchen areas, additional sleeping areas, multiple marijuana-drying areas, and a man-made reservoir.  Among other items, law enforcement found bottles of insecticide, rodenticide and fertilizer.  After law enforcement announced their presence, Yepez-Sanchez fled uphill wearing socks but no shoes.  A foot chase ensued resulting in Yepez-Sanchez being caught after law enforcement deployed a Taser.  Afterward, Yepez-Sanchez led the agents and officers to his sleeping area in the marijuana grow location. 

This case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service and HSI.  The following additional agencies assisted with executing the search and arrest warrants:  ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, Custer County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office, and Colorado National Guard.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily May, District of Colorado.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/20/2018