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A man who was charged with the largest marijuana bust ever in Shelby County, inexplicably set free by federal authorities and indicted again in Shelby on those same charges, pleaded guilty Thursday to trafficking in marijuana.
Enrique Olvera-Landaverde, 51, who was indicted by a Shelby County Grand Jury on April 18 for trafficking in marijuana over 5 pounds, stood stoically in court before Circuit Judge Charles Hickman as he made an Alford Plea.
“You are entering a plea of guilty while maintaining your innocence, but recognizing that the evidence is sufficient for a jury to find you guilty,” Hickman told Olvera-Landaverde through an interpreter.
Olvera-Landaverde has been lodged at the Shelby County Detention Center under a $15,000 bond since being arrested in late April.
Hickman told Olvera-Landaverde that although Shelby County Commonwealth Attorney Laura Donnell had recommended a 7-year sentence for him on the charge, she had said nothing about probation.
“The commonwealth has made no recommendation concerning probation, so it will up to the court to decide that on your sentencing date,” Hickman said. That will be at 9 a.m. Sept. 17.
He also told Olvera-Landaverde that he would be forfeiting all property seized in the raid on his home in July 2010, which included $63,000 in cash.
Donnell had turned Olvera-Landaverde’s case over to federal authorities in hopes of getting a stiffer sentence for him, but on Nov. 21, 2011, U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves ordered the case dismissed and directed United States marshals to release him.
She said she brought back the charges against Olvera-Landaverde because she thought she had a strong case against him and didn’t think the federal court system should have dismissed his case.
Federal court officials have declined to comment on why they dismissed the case, and in response to that question posed by The Sentinel-News, a spokesperson for the court sent only a copy of the court proceeding at which Reeves ordered the case dismissed.
Follow-up phone calls and E-mails seeking additional comment have gone without response.
Olvera-Landaverde had been sought since July 2010, when law enforcement officers, operating on a tip from his wife, raided a house where he was living at 738 Southville Pike and found 800 pounds of marijuana and the cash.
Olvera-Landaverde’s estranged wife, Maria, contacted Kentucky State Police on July 27 of that year and told KSP Detective Eric Stone that her husband had just returned from Texas and that she had found what she believed to be illegal drugs in their home.
When KSP officers arrived at the house with a search warrant, no one was home, but they found a large amount of currency as well as several bricks of marijuana in a bedroom and in a closet.
He was charged with trafficking in marijuana over 5 pounds by the state and listed as a fugitive.
Sheriff Mike Armstrong had described the confiscation at the home in Southville as the largest marijuana bust in the county to date, with deputies finding 53 bundles of marijuana weighing 15 pounds each.
Olvera-Landaverde evaded arrest until April 1, 2011, when he was caught by the U.S. Border Patrol in the small southern Texas town of La Feria, about 25 miles from the Mexican border.
Shelby County deputies and a member of the department’s drug task force drove to Texas and brought him back to Shelby County.
When he was re-arrested in April following his indictment, sheriff’s deputies found weapons in his home in Southville, and he faces additional prosecution for charges for those.