Sixth Alien Found Guilty of Conspiracy to Grow Marijuana in a National Forest and of Damaging Government Property in Largest Marijuana Grow Ever Found in Oregon
91,000 Plants Found Encompassing a Stretch Over A Mile and a Half
PORTLAND, Ore. – A federal jury in Portland returned verdicts of guilty Monday, December 16, 2013, in the trial of Fredy Figueroa-Montes, age 34. The counts of conviction included conspiracy to manufacture marijuana which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000; and depredation of government property which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000.
Trial evidence showed that the defendant joined five co-defendants in growing more than 91,000 marijuana plants in the Wallowa Whitman National Forest, and that they used more than 500 pounds of illegal rodenticides, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer to cultivate the marijuana, causing an estimated $97,000 in damage to the Wildcat Creek riparian area. Investigating officers found an Uzi long gun and two pistols in the campsite. The five co-defendants previously pled guilty and were sentenced to periods of incarceration ranging from 30 months to 120 months.
“These convictions are the result of the effective collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement partners,” said U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall. “Here in Oregon, federal prosecutors will remain aggressive when it comes to protecting federal enforcement interests that include preventing marijuana from growing on public lands, as well as preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.”
Testimony presented by the government described the outdoor grow as “staggering”, encompassing a stretch over one mile and a half in the Wildcat Creek riparian zone, where the marijuana growers disrupted the natural terrain with extensive terracing. The plants were concealed in several separate pods developed by removing trees and underbrush to camouflage the grow site, and miles of plastic irrigation tubing was found. The Marijuana Enforcement Team, a trained group of state troopers who work with law enforcement agencies during the summer months to assist with marijuana eradication and investigations related to outdoor marijuana grows, called this the largest marijuana grow ever found in the State of Oregon saying many people would be outraged at the damage to public lands caused by illegal marijuana growers. Evidence presented identified an extensive amount of trash including tubing, plastic planter containers, herbicide and other toxic chemicals that were dumped along a river’s edge.
The five-day trial was held in the Federal District Court in Portland, Oregon, with Judge Michael W. Mosman presiding.
The investigation of the marijuana grow site was led by the Wallowa County Sheriff's Office, the La Grande Police Department, and the Union/Wallowa County Drug Task Force, the Oregon State Police SWAT Team, the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT), Wallowa County Search & Rescue, Enterprise Police Department, the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations, Union County Sheriff's Office, the Baker County Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Oregon Army National Guard Counterdrug Program, and the Oregon State Police Marijuana Enforcement Team, as well as the Oregon Department of Justice, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and the Wallowa County District Attorney’s Office.
Assistant U. S. Attorney Jennifer J. Martin and Certified Law Clerk Courtney Peck prosecuted the case.