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Man sentenced for largest marijuana seizure in Riverside history

RIVERSIDE - A man caught hauling the largest load of marijuana seized in Riverside County was sentenced today to 4 1/2 years in federal prison.

Angel Guillen-Raya pleaded guilty in January to possession with intent to distribute drugs.

On the morning of Aug. 26, 2009, a Riverside County sheriff's deputy stopped the defendant on northbound Interstate 15, just past the Rainbow Canyon Road exit near Temecula, after Guillen-Raya nearly struck the deputy's vehicle while making an abrupt lane change in his big rig truck.

When Guillen-Raya could not provide documentation regarding his haul, the deputy conducted a search using a drug-sniffing dog and discovered about 14 tons of marijuana, valued at roughly $25 million, according to sheriff's

officials.

Sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said it was the largest seizure of its kind in county history.

Guillen-Raya refused to disclose where the marijuana was destined or where it originated.

''It's not uncommon for these groups to insulate themselves from exposure,'' said Jan Edward Ronis, Guillen-Raya's attorney. ''My client was basically a mule, just a driver.''

Ronis said Guillen-Raya was ''truly remorseful'' about his actions and ''the shame he brought to himself and his family.''

Man to be sentenced for largest marijuana seizure in Riverside history

Riverside - A man who pleaded guilty to transporting more than 20,000 pounds of marijuana is scheduled to be sentenced today.

Angel Guillen-Raya was pulled over in a truck about 9 a.m. on Aug. 26, going north on the Corona (15) Freeway just north of Rainbow Canyon Road outside of Temecula, said Patrick Brown, a special agent with the U.S. Forest Service.

A deputy saw Raya following another truck too closely and tried to pull him over. Raya then suddenly changed lanes and nearly struck the deputy's car, Brown said.

When the driver stopped, the deputy asked Guillen-Raya for paperwork, which he could not provide. As the two spoke, a sheriff's dog sniffed out the pot, Brown said.

A search of the truck turned up scores of boxes filled with plastic- wrapped bricks of marijuana ''stacked from front to back, solid,'' sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said.

The pot was valued at $25 million, making it the biggest seizure of its kind in Riverside County, Gutierrez said.

 

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