FRESNO, Calif. — Two Mexican nationals were sentenced Monday for possession of firearms seized from a Fresno-area illegal marijuana grow operation, following a multiagency probe that included U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Rudy Alberto Gonzalez Rocha, 29, and his brother, Eloy Damian Gonzalez Rocha, 33, both of Jalisco, Mexico, were previously convicted in federal court of being aliens in possession of firearms.
Rudy Gonzalez received a 37-month prison term and Eloy Gonzalez was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. The men will also be subject to deportation upon completion of their sentences. The case was prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar.
Earlier this year, the brothers pleaded guilty to illegally possessing three firearms, one of which was reported stolen from Arkansas and another which had an obliterated serial number. The guns were found during the execution of a narcotics search warrant at the men's leased residence in Dunlap.
"The firearms seized from these defendants are a further testament to the fact that the criminal organizations involved in illegal marijuana cultivation operations have no qualms about using violence against those who get in their way," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of HSI Fresno. "This case is also an important reminder about the crucial role federal and local collaboration plays in combatting this public safety threat and ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice."
According to court documents, deputies from the Fresno County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the property earlier this year to investigate several calls about people coming and going to and from the property, which had a strong odor of marijuana. Deputies seized 260 marijuana plants, more than 200 pounds of processed marijuana, and $17,120 in cash, along with the firearms.
In addition to imposing the prison terms, Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii also ordered the men to forfeit the cash and the firearms.
Besides HSI and the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives also participated in the case.