Minnesota Drug Trafficking 15 Feb 12

Three of five defendants arrested when Sherburne County sheriff’s investigators seized more than 300 pounds of marijuana a year ago in Big Lake Township were sentenced this week, with one man getting more than seven years in prison.

All the men sentenced this week are from Texas, were convicted of first-degree drug crimes and were sentenced in Sherburne County District Court.

28-year-old John Wisdom was sentenced Tuesday to seven years and 10 months in prison. He was accused of driving a modified semi that held the marijuana that was brought to Minnesota from Texas.

41-year-old Martin Javier Garza and 48-year-old Israel Benavidez also were sentenced this week for their roles in the case. Garza was sentenced to seven years and two months in prison, but the sentence was stayed on the condition that Garza serve a year in jail. Garza already has been in custody for a year, and he was released after the sentencing. He remains on probation.

Benavidez was sentenced to four years in prison.

Charges against Cesar Valdez-Gonzalez are pending, and he remains in Sherburne County Jail.

Sherburne County sheriff’s investigators participated in a five-month drug investigation that led to the seizure of more than $500,000 worth of marijuana from a Big Lake Township residence that the men were using as a stash house for their trafficking operation, according to Sheriff Joel Brott.

The operation involved drug trafficking, transportation and distribution and originated in Texas and brought large amounts of marijuana into Minnesota.