Toxic Marijuana Operation In Sequoia National Forest Results In 46-Month Prison Sentence
FRESNO, Calif. — Jose Luis Garcia Villa (Garcia), 22, of Michoacàn, Mexico, has been sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison for his involvement in a toxic marijuana cultivation operation in the Sequoia National Forest, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. Garcia was also ordered to pay $3,328 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for damage sustained to public land and natural resources as a result of the cultivation operation.
According to court documents, Garcia conspired to cultivate 8,876 marijuana plants near the Greenhorn Creek Trail in the Sequoia National Forest in Kern County. Native oak trees and other vegetation were cut down to make room for the marijuana planted there. The soil was tilled, and fertilizers and pesticides, including a highly toxic and illegal rat poison from Mexico called Fosfuro de Zinc or zinc phosphide, were spread throughout the site. Exposure to zinc phosphide can cause a variety of ailments, including vomiting, burning sensations, abdominal pain, unconsciousness, and lack of muscle control. If ingested, a small quantity can be fatal to humans. Garcia is subject to deportation after he serves his sentence.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID), and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar prosecuted this case.