OAKLAND, California – Two men have been sentenced to 16 years in prison for their involvement in a fatal cannabis robbery. Jose Antonio Alvarez and Omar Rojo, both 25, were convicted of voluntary manslaughter in late October, according to a Bay Area News Group report.
The two men were originally charged with murder and robbery in the death of 25-year-old Jaime Valdovinos. The incident occurred in September 2019, when Rojo and Alvarez attempted to rob Valdovinos and another individual of a large quantity of marijuana, resulting in Valdovinos’ death.
According to NBC Bay Area, the surviving victim reported that during a struggle to retrieve the stolen marijuana, the two suspects shot and killed Valdovinos. Rojo was charged with special circumstances murder just days after the shooting, while Alvarez was not arrested until April 2021.
The plea deal includes a court order for both defendants to stay away from the surviving victim and to not possess guns after their release from prison. The case serves as a grim reminder of the perils within the illegal drug trade.
It is a harsh reality underscored by law enforcement’s recent raid of an Oakland warehouse, which yielded millions of dollars worth of cannabis plants. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife noted that the operation was one of the largest illegal cannabis busts in the state this year.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the department emphasized their commitment to combating illegal cannabis operations in support of establishing a legal marketplace. The raid resulted in the eradication of over 41,000 illegal cannabis plants and the recovery of three firearms.
In addition to the tragedy of Valdovinos’ death, the cannabis industry in Oakland has also been targeted by armed robbers. Just last year, a dispensary owner reported a theft of over $100,000 in products after intruders cut power to the building and brandished a gun during the burglary.
The fatal cannabis robbery and subsequent legal proceedings highlight the dangers and criminal activity that continue to plague the illicit drug trade in Oakland. Attacking illegal cannabis operations remains a top priority for law enforcement in the region.