KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Mexican national who has been deported seven times after illegally entering the United States was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a Daviess County, Missouri, marijuana-growing operation where law enforcement officers seized nearly $10 million worth of plants.
Sergio Medina-Perez, 47, of El Monte, California, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to six years in federal prison without parole. This federal sentence must be served consecutively to any sentence imposed as a result of his violation of probation in an unrelated California case. Medina-Perez pleaded guilty in California to being a felon in possession of a firearm, cultivating marijuana and resisting arrest for a marijuana grow operation in Shasta County, Calif. He received a suspended imposition of sentence and was placed on three years’ probation, but indicted eight months later in this federal case.
The court also ordered Medina-Perez to forfeit the Daviess County property to the government.
On Feb. 3, 2021, Medina-Perez pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to manufacture and to possess marijuana plants with the intent to distribute. Medina-Perez also pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the United States after having been deported following a felony conviction.
Law enforcement officers, who had been keeping the marijuana grow site under surveillance, executed a search warrant at the property on Aug. 27, 2018. The plants were in a clearing inside a large area of timber. A distinct path led from a building in the wooded area to the area containing the marijuana plants.
Officers located approximately 2,464 cultivated marijuana plants. With an approximate street value of $1,800 per pound of marijuana, this results in approximately $9,757,440 in marijuana plants seized.
Two days later, on Aug. 29, 2018, Medina-Perez was arrested near the grow site. He told law enforcement that he came to Missouri from California to work as a trimmer at the marijuana grow operation and was paid $100 for every pound of marijuana that he trimmed.
Medina-Perez has been deported from the United States on seven previous occasions. He was convicted in Yakima County, Washington, of possessing cocaine on Sept. 22, 1993, and deported in 1995. He illegally reentered the United States and was deported again on April 3, 1998; Aug. 30, 2002; April 4, 2003; Dec. 17, 2005; July 6, 2006; and July 11, 2006.
Co-defendant Miguel Pulido-Maldonado, also known as “Mona,” 30, ran into the woods to escape custody but was arrested on Aug. 30, 2018; he was covered in mud, his arms had numerous bites from either mosquitos or other insects and it appeared he had been outside for several days. Pulido-Maldonado had previously illegally entered the United States and was removed on Jan. 30, 2017. Pulido-Maldonado was sentenced to three years in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and to illegally reentering the United States.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad K. Kavanaugh. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Northwest Missouri Drug Task Force, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Daviess County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Grundy County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Livingston County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.