United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Mexican National Indicted For Growing Marijuana On Public Lands In Merced County
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Thursday, September 13, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. — A Mexican national was indicted today for growing marijuana on public lands, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
“This indictment represents a federal prosecution stemming from Operation Mercury, a comprehensive multi-agency marijuana enforcement effort spanning six counties in the Central Valley and intended to stem the proliferation of industrial-sized marijuana grows on our public and agricultural lands,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner.
According to court documents, Nicolas Zocquitecatl, 28, was involved in the cultivation of approximately 5,116 marijuana plants on Bureau of Land Management property in the San Luis Reservoir area. If convicted of the drug charges, Zocquitecatl faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The actual sentence, if convicted, 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 charge is only an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Land Management, Central Valley Marijuana Investigation Team, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant United States Attorney Laurel J. Montoya is prosecuting the case.