United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Reedley Man Receives 5 Years 3 Months In Prison For Growing Marijuana In The Sierra National Forest
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Monday, June 4, 2012
Docket #: 1:09-cr-339-LJO
FRESNO, Calif. — Salvador Gutiérrez Machuca, 28, of Reedley, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill to five years and three months in prison for conspiring to grow, distribute and possess marijuana with intent to distribute, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Gutiérrez Machuca conspired to grow approximately 49,206 marijuana plants valued at more than $43 million in the Rock Creek area of Sierra National Forest. Gutiérrez Machuca was also ordered to pay $25,941 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for the cost of removing over 7,500 pounds of debris generated at the cultivation site. Gutiérrez Machuca is subject to deportation upon completion of his prison sentence.
This case was the product of a wiretap investigation conducted by the Central Valley Marijuana Investigation Team, which consisted of agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, and Fresno County and Tulare County Sheriffs’ Departments. The investigation was also conducted in conjunction with Operation Save Our Sierra (SOS), a multi-agency marijuana eradication effort spearheaded in 2009 by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, which ultimately resulted in the removal of approximately 423,953 marijuana plants from public lands in primarily Fresno County. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar prosecuted the case.
Gutiérrez Machuca is the fifth defendant to be sentenced in the case. According to his plea agreement, Gutiérrez Machuca transported workers and marijuana cultivation equipment for Miguel Gomez-Gomez, 26, of Dinuba, who oversaw the extensive marijuana cultivation operation in the Sierra National Forest. He also lined up buyers for Gomez-Gomez’s processed marijuana.