YAKIMA, Wash. — Two men caught tending a large but remote marijuana grow near Rimrock Lake were sentenced to prison Thursday in federal court.
Fernando Chavez-Lopez was sentenced to five years in prison by U.S. District Judge Lonny R. Suko, while co-defendant Socorro Trujillo-Silva received a seven-year sentence.
According to court records, the two were caught July 19, 2011, tending a marijuana grow of more than 5,000 plants in the Bethel Ridge area, located north of U.S Highway 12.
The pair were caught asleep at dawn by a reconnaissance team of local and federal agents. A loaded 9 mm pistol was found next to Trujillo’s sleeping bag.
Under questioning, Trujillo said he planted the grow after he met someone in Yakima who furnished him with supplies and the pistol. He was to receive a cut of the profits following harvest.
Chavez, meanwhile, told agents he ended up at the site after meeting someone he knew as “El Gordo” while picking olives in California. He was promised up to $10,000.
In addition to their prison time, both defendants are Mexican nationals and face deportation upon release.
In a sentencing memo to the court, Trujillo’s court-appointed attorney, Diane Hehir, urged the court to accept her client’s seven-year plea deal.
Noting the current contradiction between federal policy and Washington state’s new law legalizing marijuana, she estimated it will cost taxpayers just over $200,000 in prison costs to incarcerate him, plus another $144,000 for Chavez.