Mexican Farm Worker Gets 10 Years for Pot Cultivation

Talk about the absurdity of our federal drug laws....

Miguel Mendoza Palominos grew up in extreme poverty. He was shoeless throughout his childhood and often without a roof over this head. He did not go to school and has never been able to read or write. At times, his mother sent him to beg for food. His alcoholic father played little or no role in the family's day-to-day struggle for existence. At age 21, Palominos came to California from his village deep in Mexico on the promise of "agriculture" work that would enable him to better support his mother and sisters.

Only after being delivered to a remote area of Tehama County and tasked with watering marijuana plants was he aware of the job's precise nature. He was never paid, and when the camp was raided two months after his arrival by sheriff's deputies, he was the only one of five "irrigators" caught. A jury found him guilty in November of manufacturing 1,000 or more plants and Palominos, now 23, was sentenced Wednesday in Sacramento federal court to 10 years behind bars.

After he serves 8 1/2 years, Mr. Palominos will be deported to Mexico:

"When Mr. Palominos is done swabbing prison floors, somewhere between 2010 and 2014, he will be given a one-way ticket back to poverty," defense attorney Timothy Zindel noted in a court document. "The ones who exploited him are out there somewhere today carrying on business as usual."

The prosecutor, Samuel Wong, thinks the sentence is fair. In fact, he's made a specialty of going after Mexican immigrant grunt workers.

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