United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
mexican national guilty of growing marijuana on public land
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Monday, August 27, 2012
Docket #: 1:11-cr-0333
FRESNO, Calif. — Jose Diego Contreras-Ramirez, 25, of Mazatlan, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to cultivate, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana grown on public land, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, in the summer of 2011, Contreras-Ramirez, an undocumented alien, assisted in the cultivation of 15,204 marijuana plants in the Nobe Young Creek area of the Sierra National Forest. In so doing, native vegetation was destroyed to make room for the plants. Trash, fertilizer and insecticide containers were strewn throughout the grow site. When law enforcement officers encountered Contreras-Ramirez at the grow site, he was armed with a loaded 9 millimeter semi-automatic pistol. Officers also found an assault rifle in the campsite, along with 50,640 marijuana seeds, ammunition, and a digital scale. In pleading guilty, Contreras-Ramirez agreed to pay the U.S. Forest Service $1,7603 to clean up the site.
Contreras-Ramirez is scheduled for sentencing on November 13, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill. Contreras-Ramirez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $10 million 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. Upon completion of his prison sentence, Contreras-Ramirez is subject to deportation to Mexico.
This case is the product of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen A. Escobar and Alyson Berg are prosecuting the case.