Delhi man sentenced for part in interstate drug distribution ring

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comSeptember 11, 2013 

A U.S. District judge has sentenced a Delhi man for his part in an interstate drug ring.

Jose Sergio Espindola, 41, of Delhi was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb to six months in prison and six months home detention for concealing a felony, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.

Jose Sergio Espindola was the last of 11 defendants sentenced in a case that focused on his cousin, Uriel Ochoa-Espindola, who was sentenced earlier this year to 17 years in prison.

According to court documents, Ochoa-Espindola was the leader of a large marijuana trafficking operation based in Delhi.

Ochoa-Espindola and his partners grew tens of thousands of marijuana plants in El Dorado, Tehama and Placer counties, and shipped the harvest by truck to South Dakota, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, North Carolina and elsewhere.

Investigators seized more than 100 pounds of marijuana in Colorado and more than 300 pounds in Illinois. Investigators also recovered more than $100,000 in cash being moved from North Carolina to California for Ochoa-Espindola.

Investigators took an additional $315,000 in cash at the time of Ochoa-Espindola’s arrest.

Investigators found three handguns and nearly 11,000 marijuana plants at the El Dorado County site, almost 17,500 marijuana plants at the Placer County site and nearly 2,000 marijuana plants at a site in Tehama County.

In all, investigators seized 24 firearms, including four AK-47 rifles and two M-16-style rifles, many with high-capacity magazines.

“This case represented all the worst aspects of marijuana trafficking in this district – multiple grow sites, environmental harm, high-capacity firearms, huge amounts of money, shipments to multiple states,” Wagner said, in a press release.

Co-defendant Valentine Ramirez-Cardinez was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Other co-defendants received prison sentences ranging from three years to nearly eight years.

A number of agencies took part in the investigation, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, Placer County Sheriff’s Department, California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and Mountain and Valley Marijuana Investigation Team.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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