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Authorities bust $100 million marijuana fields linked to Los Zetas in East Texas

March 9, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Authorities bust $100 million marijuana fields linked to Los Zetas in East Texas

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Law enforcement agencies began arresting various suspects for their links with the 15 marijuana fields found in nine East Texas counties over the past two years.

According to a news release published by the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, multiple local, state and federal agencies carried out the arrests of many Mexican Nationals on Tuesday morning who have been found to be involved with various illicit marijuana grows in East Texas.

Thirteen state arrest warrants were issued by 114th State District Judge Christi Kennedy with suggested bonds of $200,000 each, not including Eduardo Pineda and Benito Ramirez whose bonds have been established at $400,000.

Officials said the marijuana fields are tied to the Los Zetas drug cartel

According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, three of the thirteen suspects have been found and apprehended. Immigration Customs Enforcement ICE has also detained several other people who were present during the arrests.

Operation Joint Venture was launched on July 28, 2015, in northeastern Smith County with the destruction of three illegal marijuana sites and the seizure of approximately 22,000 marijuana plants. These raids were started by the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division, and the U.S. Department of Justice DEA.

As a result of the probe, several suspects associated with the above mentioned secret marijuana operation were identified. The investigation proceeded on this group based out of Tyler, Texas through December 2016.

$100 million dollar marijuana fields uncovered in Texas

Eduardo Ramirez Pineda was named as a leader within the local drug organization and was managing the daily operations of at least fifteen marijuana grow sites in East Texas. Pineda is a fugitive at this time along with Benito Duarte Ramirez.

The fifteen illegal marijuana cultivation sites were placed in numerous counties in East Texas including Sabine, Smith, Houston, Morris, Harrison, Upshur, Anderson, Van Zandt and Henderson.
Assistance was provided by law enforcement in all of these counties. Through investigative interviews, it was discovered this group is linked to the Los Zetas Drug Cartel.

In sum, from July of 2015 to November of 2016, roughly 77,000 individual marijuana plants were seized from fifteen areas. Using the DEA’s formula for evaluating the quantity of marijuana that could have been produced from these plants, it is believed that about 169,400 pounds of marijuana would have been manufactured.

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