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SoCal03
05-19-2009, 7:12 AM
http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2009/05/18/news/featurednews/news01.txt

The other side of the story

socal2310
05-19-2009, 7:43 AM
I hope the prosecution has something better than eyewitness statements. Those ought to be inadmissible in court by now, particularly when witnesses are called on to identify someone of a different ethnic background.

Cognitive specialists know that only 20% of what we "see" comes from our eyes. The rest is supplied by memory. It's very easy for us to lock in details after the fact.

Ryan

kalguns
05-19-2009, 7:45 AM
Mistake

cdtx2001
05-19-2009, 8:00 AM
I hope these guys have a good lawyer and a good jury and are found innocent.

Of course, I hope I'm rooting for the right team.

berto
05-19-2009, 10:14 AM
Reasonable doubt.

Saigon1965
05-19-2009, 10:19 AM
...

Like so many defendants charged with crimes, Jose Cruz Lopez and Javier Barragan claim they are innocent.

However, the two have taken their proclamation of innocence to a level seldom seen locally.

They have set up a Web site — www.mexihunters.com — detailing their assertions that they have been wrongfully accused of cultivating marijuana in Los Padres National Forest near New Cuyama.

Through their Web site and their attorney, Lopez and Barragan say they simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and were actually on a routine shooting/hunting trip at Soda Lake in San Luis Obispo County.

Lopez, 38, from Paramount, and Barragan, 40, from Maywood, were arrested on suspicion of marijuana cultivation last month in connection with an active marijuana farm found in the Aliso Park area.

Some 13,300 plants worth an estimated

$26.6 million were discovered and seized,

according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

On April 17, two adult campers were approached by two men who were tending to the marijuana garden, according to the Sheriff’s Department. With communication hampered by a language barrier, the men requested that the campers wait until the arrival of the “boss,” who spoke English.

However, the campers packed their gear and drove down a dirt road, sheriff’s officials said.

The campers came across a pickup traveling the opposite direction, and the driver, who the campers believed was the “boss,” got out and waved for the pair to come back, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The truck reportedly chased the pair down the mountain until the campers were able to distance themselves from the vehicle and call law enforcement. A Taft police officer spotted a truck matching the description given, and Barragan and Lopez were arrested.

During a search of the truck, authorities found five high-powered rifles equipped with rifle scopes and rounds of ammunition, according to sheriff’s officials.

Attorney Michael Clayton, who is representing Barragan and Lopez, said his clients, whom he called “avid hunters”, had single bolt-action rifles.

“That means they’re like Barney Fife. They put one bullet in at a time,” he said.

“Drug dealers don’t carry bolt-action rifles, they carry machine guns.”

The men, who are free on $50,000 bail each, have no prior criminal history, except for Lopez shooting a quail out of season 18 years ago, Clayton said.

The day the men were arrested, they had been shooting at targets in preparation for deer season, he said.

“They were nowhere near the marijuana grow,” he said.

“Nothing they did that day was illegal,” Clayton added.

When the pair were pulled over in their vehicle, they figured they must have been shooting in an area they weren’t supposed to be, he said.

“What you got here is you got the wrong people,” Clayton said.

Nonetheless, Lopez and Barragan have been charged by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office with a felony charge each of cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for the purpose of sale, along with a special allegation that they were armed with a firearm.

They are due back in court Thursday in Santa Maria.

Deputy District Attorney Megan Baldwin, the case prosecutor, said she is aware of the defendants’ claim that they are wrongfully accused, but said she is not allowed to discuss the facts of the investigation.

Drew Sugars, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said that while he cannot say much about the case, the campers are certain that Barragan and Lopez are the two men they saw at the marijuana grow.

“The two victims in this case are steadfast of both the vehicle and the two men who are inside,” he said.

Investigators believe Lopez and Barragan are connected to the marijuana farm, Sugars added.

He said investigators were not revealing how the defendants were tied to the grow. Two other suspects remain outstanding, Sugars said.

On their elaborately organized Web site, which includes biographies of the men, photos and video and contact information, Lopez and Barragan say they are best friends and longtime hunting buddies.

They said that on April 17, they headed out at 5 a.m. from Paramount to the National Forest for short target shooting and small game hunting.

The pair spent a couple hours at the outdoor shooting area at Soda Lake, and were traveling north to their next destination when they were pulled over in Maricopa, according to the Web site.

Barragan is employed as a licensed contractor and a business owner, the Web site says, and Lopez was a steel saw operator before he was disabled by a major back injury. Both were born in Mexico but are naturalized U.S. citizens, according to their Web site.

The criminal case file on the men supplies documents indicating they have income.

Lopez and Barragan said they have been advised by Clayton not to comment on the case, and have referred all questions to him.

Robert Sanger, a prominent defense attorney based in Santa Barbara, said that during his 35 years of law practice, he has seen the accused set up defense networks and defense funds.

While some who are prosecuted get worried and upset, others try to find ways to fight back, he said.

Charges are especially painful to someone who is innocent, Sanger added.

“The government comes down on you like a ton of bricks,” he said, explaining that prosecutors have a multitude of resources available.

“It must be just absolutely excruciating to be prosecuted for a felony, or any kind of crime, if you’re innocent,” Sanger said.

May 18, 2009

7x57
05-19-2009, 10:27 AM
Mistake. The argument about criminals and bolt-action rifles is correct. Absent better evidence, that is more than enough to make it not beyond a reasonable doubt.

7x57

garandguy10
05-19-2009, 10:27 AM
Just a couple of more victims from the "War on Drugs" They will be going away for a long time.....

StukaJr
05-19-2009, 10:32 AM
Don't think there is enough to convict the supposed "growers" on, but I also find odd that the two suspects were so keen on talking to the campers and then the English speaking following the campers...

While the latter behavior is not illegal, it's National Forrest for god's sake and unless the individuals are on some kind of official business - I don't want to talk to anybody (especially, someone not in the control of the language - just a waste of time) and I certainly don't want to be followed, my way blocked or told where I can or cannot be... The campers had reasons to leave and contact authorities - the behavior of the "mexihunters" was at least suspicious and IMO just a little inconsiderate, pushing on creepy...

While I don't know what the law is onto here, I'd be pretty setting all kind of alarms and leaving.

fairfaxjim
05-19-2009, 10:34 AM
There are only victims in our war on drugs. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the drug warriors LOVE to find firearms on their suspected perp's. The average person is not really afraid of pot, but the media will show and distort any reports of firearms, and that makes the suspects guilty right out of the box (at least in the mind of the average media consumer)!

GTXR390
05-19-2009, 10:39 AM
I'm Pro 420, but not for those immigrants or anyone of else invading CA, growing crops out at our parks, like it was their territory.

CavTrooper
05-19-2009, 10:41 AM
I hope the prosecution has something better than eyewitness statements. Those ought to be inadmissible in court by now, particularly when witnesses are called on to identify someone of a different ethnic background.


LOL.

This statement amuses me.

Roadrunner
05-19-2009, 10:42 AM
I think someone thought "Two Mexicans with guns walking by an illegal Marijuana field got to be doing something wrong". But that's just my take on this.

BKinzey
05-19-2009, 10:43 AM
They may be growers but the rifles, scopes, and plastic ammo boxes sure look like target shooters / hunters to me.

StukaJr
05-19-2009, 10:58 AM
"No country for old men"...

I've seen it

MrClamperSir
05-19-2009, 11:22 AM
So you don't even have to be in possession of the marijuana to be arrested for it??
It seems like an overzealous DA.

bwiese
05-19-2009, 12:16 PM
I hope the prosecution has something better than eyewitness statements. Those
ought to be inadmissible in court by now, particularly when witnesses are called
on to identify someone of a different ethnic background.


LOL.

This statement amuses me.


Cav,

It's been repeatedly demonstrated that cross-racial witness identification has substantial reliability issues.

The old pejorative, "They all look the same to me..." actually has basis in scientific fact.

Hell, same-race eyewitness identification from untrained individuals is faulty enough given context variables (lighting conditions, similar clothing, etc).

Californio
05-19-2009, 12:42 PM
Wonder if they had Hunting Licenses?

xrMike
05-19-2009, 12:50 PM
They may be growers but the rifles, scopes, and plastic ammo boxes sure look like target shooters / hunters to me.Exactly, my first thought too -- there aren't many mexican national dope growers making hand loads.

shooten
05-19-2009, 12:58 PM
From the sound of it, the evidence against them looks paper thin. Overzealous DA.

P08
05-19-2009, 3:39 PM
"Attorney Michael Clayton, who is representing Barragan and Lopez, said his clients, whom he called “avid hunters”, had single bolt-action rifles.", this wouldnt happen to the one from that movie would it? The fixer, george clooney? I thought he was an anti gunner.