EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. — A grand jury has indicted four men at the center of an illegal marijuana grow operation that led to the shooting death of El Dorado County Deputy Brian Ishmael.
The men — Christopher Ross, 42; Jorge Lamas, 25; and 22-year-old Ramiro Morales and 20-year-old Juan Carlos Vasquez, two Mexican nationals living in Somerset — each face charges for marijuana cultivation and firearms offenses.
According to court documents, Vasquez and Morales were also charged with possessing a firearm as an undocumented immigrant. Vasquez was charged with murder for Ishmael’s death. Morales was charged with being an accessory after the fact in the deputy’s death.
The penalty for the marijuana counts is between 5 and 40 years in prison, with fines of up to $5 million. The firearms offenses carry a sentence of 10 years to life in prison with a fine of up to $250,000, according to court documents.
Officers said they found two live marijuana plants and 99 marijuana stalks that were recently harvested at the illegal marijuana farm near Sand Ridge Road and Mount Aukum Road in Somerset.
Deputy Brian Ishmael was responding with an off-duty San Joaquin County Sheriff's deputy to a theft call at a marijuana farm in the yard of a home in Somerset. Both of the deputies immediately took fire, El Dorado County Sheriff John D'Agostini said. Ishmael was shot and killed. The unidentified off-duty deputy returned fire, but was also shot, D'Agostini said.
Ishmael was a four-year veteran with the sheriff's department, and spent two years with the Placerville Police Department prior to that.
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