Man sentenced after authorities find 9,156 marijuana plants on Colorado River island

DENVER — A 33-year-old man was sentenced this week to serve five years in federal prison after he was accused of growing thousands of marijuana plants on an island in the Colorado River.

Santos Ramirez-Carrillo of Mesa County was charged with conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute 50 or more marijuana plants. His co-defendant Santos Ramirez-Alvarez pled guilty to similar charges earlier, and is pending sentencing on Aug. 6, according to the District of Colorado's U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to court documents, in May 2017, the two men started living and working on an island in the Colorado River near DeBeque. The island is partly comprised federal land. Over the next four months, Ramirez-Carrillo and his co-conspirators worked together on that island and others nearby to cultivate thousands of marijuana plants.

On Sept. 7, agents from several federal, local and state agencies executed a search warrant on the island and approached a suspected campsite. They announced their presence and three men tried to run away. Both Ramirez-Carrillo and Ramirez-Alvarez were captured and a third man escaped.

During a subsequent search, agents and officers discovered more than 9,150 plants.

Bureau of Land Management Colorado Special Agent in Charge Gary Mannino said that the illegal activity posed environmental and safety hazards to the public.

"Federal lands belong to all of us,” said U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer.  “We will continue to pursue and punish people who abuse those lands and exploit them for criminal purposes.”

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