Mexican national pleads guilty to $10 million marijuana grow operation in Daviess County

Hand Holding Small Marijuana Leaf with Cannabis Plants in Background

A Mexican national pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a Daviess County, Missouri, marijuana-growing operation where law enforcement officers seized nearly $10 million worth of plants.

Miguel Pulido-Maldonado, also known as “Mona,” 28, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to one count of conspiracy to manufacture and possess with the intent to distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants, and one count of illegally reentering the United States.

The owners of the three real estate tracts that comprise the property in Daviess County live in California. 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. Under the terms of a plea agreement, Pulido-Maldonado must forfeit that amount to the government as illegal drug-trafficking proceeds. The Daviess County property must also be forfeited to the government.

Pulido-Maldonado, who ran into the woods to escape custody, 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.

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.