Federal agents in California raided a marijuana grow house here that was suspected of funding the MS-13 gang in Fresno County, according to court records released Friday.
The raid was the result of a wiretap investigation headed by Homeland Security Investigations — a branch of ICE — that started in May and targeted MS-13 members. According to federal authorities, the investigation began after a number of homicides in the small agricultural town of Mendota, where a subset of the gang has a presence.
At around 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 30, agents raided a home in the 2600 block of Parker Street in Oakland. They recovered 411 marijuana plants, more than three pounds of marijuana, and an SKS rifle and ammunition, according to a sworn statement by a Homeland Security Investigations agent.
On Wednesday, the home’s alleged occupant, Rigoberto Gonzalez-Escobar, was charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, possessing more than 100 plants, and illegal gun possession. If convicted of both offenses, he faces a maximum of 40 years in prison.
When he was interviewed by police, Gonzalez-Escobar said he was employed by a woman to look after the marijuana and that he was not sure what she would do with it. He said he had previously worked installing garage doors in Richmond but had lost his job and needed work. He said he was living at the home with his girlfriend and child, according to authorities.
Authorities say after intercepting cell phone and Facebook communications, they determined the marijuana was being sold and that the proceeds were sent to other gang members in Fresno County.
Gonzalez-Escobar’s arrest appears to be connected to a months-long investigation headed by federal and state authorities in Fresno County, that came to a head last month. Two dozen alleged MS-13 members were charged with crimes that ranged from drug trafficking to murder and assault. Authorities said at the time the investigation helped solve killings across the nation, in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Houston.
This article is written by Nate Gartrell from East Bay Times and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.
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