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Tuesday May 5th, 2015 10:25PM

Three sentenced in $3 million Gainesville pot bust

By Derreck Booth Anchor/reporter
Three men who planned to use a Gainesville warehouse to unload a shipment of marijuana last spring were sentenced to prison Thursday.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, 43-year-old Jose Luis Chavez-Morfin was sentenced to 5 years, 10 months in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. 54 year old Angel Zamudio-Martinez was sentenced to 4 years, 2 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. 19 year old Marco Ortiz-Barajas was sentenced to 3 years in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Each defendant will be deported to Mexico at the end of his sentence.

"If for some reason they were to return to the United States, then they would have to serve their term of supervised release," Assistant United Statea Attorney Ellen Endrizzi said.

"Today's sentences are a reminder that drug trafficking carries with it serious consequences and that no community is immune from its presence or its potentially destructive effects," United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said.

The case stems from nearly 1,600 pounds of marijuana discovered inside a tractor trailer on Martin Luther King, Junior Boulevard in Gainesville on April 12. Under cilantro, peppers, and other green vegetables, law enforcement located and seized the marijuana. The approximate street value of the drugs was $3,144,000.

Endrizzi said it was a fairly open and shut case from the prosecution's standpoint.

"They were caught before they even started. We had an undercover officer working so that there was no possibility that this marijuana was going to hit the streets of Gainesville," Endrizzi said.

In addition to Homeland Security Investigations and the Gainesville-Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, several agencies were involved in the bust. They included the Hall County Sheriff's SWAT Team, Gainesville Police Department and Hall County Sheriff's Office uniform patrol divisions, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, FBI Safe Streets Task Force, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Georgia State Patrol, and Georgia State Patrol Aviation Division.

Endrizzi said the other three people facing charges in the case were expected to be prosecuted at the county level.

38-year-old Juventino Morfin-Mendoza, 45-year-old Jose Macias-Sanchez and 47-year-old Calvin Elwood Gearhart of Wichita, Kansas, are the remaining three defendents.
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