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Man pleads guilty in major pot grow operation

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Posted at 4:10 PM, Feb 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 18:10:20-05

Carlos Avalos-Cervantes, 31, of Walla Walla, Washington, (and originally from Mexico), pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance with intent to distribute -- the substance being more than 1,000 marijuana plants; and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, according to U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced.

According to court documents, Avalos-Cervantes was arrested on September 23 of last year, along with co-conspirator Martin Diaz-Lara, in a remote, timbered canyon north of Banks.

Drug enforcement agents were able to document a total of 6,870 live and harvested marijuana plants on state lands in the canyon. According to court proceedings, Avalos-Cervantes and his co-conspirator each possessed a 9mm handgun. “The court documents also state that the marijuana operation was supported and supplied by other co-defendants,” Olson said.

Olson pointed out both Avalos-Cervantes and Diaz-Lara are Mexican nationals who entered the United States illegally.

Diaz-Lara, along with co-defendants Javier Avila-Contreras, Rogelio Arevalo-Villasenor, and David Becerra-Saucedo are scheduled for trial on April 19.

The maximum penalty for manufacturing more than 1,000 marijuana plants with intent to distribute is not less than 10 years possibly up to life in prison, as well as a $10,000,000 fine. The maximum penalty for possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes is not less than five years imprisonment consecutive to any other penalty, and a $250,000 fine.

Multiple law enforcement agencies worked jointly on the investigation.