United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Mexican Nationals Indicted for Pot Grow in Sequoia National Forest
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
CONTACT: Lauren Horwood
September 15, 2011
PHONE: (916) 554-2706
FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that today a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Andrés Muñoz-Villa, 41, and Cirrilo Gutiérrez-Garcia, 25, both of Michoacán, Mexico, charging them with conspiring to cultivate marijuana plants, possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, destruction of public lands and resources as a result of marijuana cultivation, and avoiding examination and inspection by immigration authorities.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Kern County Sheriff's Department, and Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), a multi-agency law enforcement task force composed of local, state and federal agencies organized expressly to eradicate illegal marijuana cultivation and trafficking in California. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.
According to court documents, Muñoz-Villa and Gutiérrez-Garcia were responsible for watering and caring for approximately 2,953 marijuana plants at a grow site in Kern County in the Sequoia National Forest. Both men tried to flee when law enforcement officers entered the grow site. Muñoz-Villa had a loaded .38 caliber firearm on his person when he was apprehended. Native plants were cleared to make room for the marijuana plants, and trash, fertilizer, and insecticide containers were found stored within a few feet of Burnt Canyon Creek.
Muñoz-Villa and Gutiérrez-Garcia have been ordered detained as a flight risk and danger to the community. They are next scheduled to appear in U.S. Magistrate Court in Fresno on September 20, 2011, when they will be arraigned on the charges.
If convicted of the narcotics offenses, the defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The destruction of lands charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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