Two Modesto Residents Sentenced for Criminal Marijuana Conspiracy
On November 4, 2008, the United States District Court sentenced two Modesto, CA residents, Luke Anthony Scarmazzo and Ricardo Ruiz Montes, to two decades in jail on federal drug crime charges for their participation in a massive criminal marijuana manufacturing and distribution enterprise.
According to the prosecution, the defendants got a license from the city to run a business specializing in organic healthcare products. However, this enterprise, known as California Healthcare Collective, restricted its activities to selling and distributing marijuana.
Over the course of three years, from 2004 to 2006, the California Healthcare Collective brought in millions of dollars — a low estimate suggests the figure at $4.5 million, while a higher estimate, corroborated by evidence, suggests that the number may have been as high as $9 million. Illegally, Scarmazzo and Montes used their earnings to buy personal property, such as a Mercedes valued at nearly $200,000.
The U.S. Attorney’s office and Drug Enforcement Agency made the case that Scarmazzo and Montes had taken advantage of the latitude offered by Proposition 215 (which legalized limited marijuana possession for medical use). Scarmazzo and Montes were arrested only after the Drug Enforcement Administration, Modesto Police, and other task forces conducted a multi-pronged investigation.
When the federal government involves itself in a criminal case, the prosecution typically spares no expense in pushing for a strong verdict in its favor. This is because federal cases are expensive to prosecute, and agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration, the ATF, and the criminal division of the IRS need to prove results to maintain funding and political backing.
To protect yourself against harsh federal criminal prosecution, you need an equally powerful and battle-ready defense. Consider retaining the federal crimes defense attorneys, to manage your federal case.