Sacto 9-1-1
October 7, 2010
Five people indicted in alleged pot manufacturing ring

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A federal grand jury in Sacramento returned three indictments today charging five individuals with manufacturing and conspiring to manufacture marijuana in Nevada County.

This follows a separate indictment, returned July 29, arising form the same operation charging eight other defendants with manufacturing and conspiring to manufacture marijuana, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

All four indictments are part of Operation Cash Crop, a joint operation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies targeting major marijuana traffickers in Nevada County and neighboring areas.

Charged today were Scott Blake Miller, 31, of Grass Valley; Michael James Taylor, 47, of Bali, Indonesia; and Damien Michael Baranowski, 37, Kawika Mark Medeiros, 27, and Christian Carlson, 25, all of Nevada City.

According to court documents, during execution of 16 search warrants in three counties, law enforcement agents seized more than 4,100 marijuana plants, more than 200 pounds of processed marijuana and several firearms. A number of defendants were armed at the time of their arrest, and several of the individuals have prior felony convictions for narcotics offenses, officials said.

Carlson was arrested in a marijuana grow with a firearm while on pre-trial release from an earlier arrest. He currently faces charges for manufacturing marijuana in Southern California in 2009, the news release said.

Documents found at a number of the search locations show hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial transactions, and interstate shipment of cash and narcotics, officials said.

The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency; California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement; and the Nevada County, Placer County and El Dorado County sheriff's departments. The joint investigations focused on both illegal narcotics transactions and illegal financial transactions.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

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