Men Charged with Graffiti Tagging in National Forest Wilderness Area Near Reno
Reno, Nev. – Three men were arrested today following their indictment by a Federal Grand Jury on charges of destruction of federal property after they were caught spray painting rocks, trees and trail markers on a trail in the Mount Rose Wilderness Area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest near Reno, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
"Individuals who deface or otherwise harm federal lands in Nevada will be prosecuted," said U.S. Attorney Brower.
Alfredo Perez, 19, Efrain Becerra, 22, and Gabriel Amaya, 18, all of Sparks, Nevada, were arrested this morning in the Reno-Sparks area. They are charged with Willfully Injuring or Committing Any Depredation Against Any Property of the United States and Aiding and Abetting. According to the Indictment, on June 10, 2008, the defendants allegedly used spray paint and a permanent marker to mark rocks, trail signs, and tree trunks with the symbols "The Perfect Criminals" and "TPC" on the Jones-Whites Creek Trail and at Church's Pond. The Indictment states that the resulting damage to the federal property is in excess of $1000. Other individuals who were hiking in the area immediately reported the offense to law enforcement by cell phone, and, with the assistance of representatives of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, Washoe County Parks Department, and Reno Police Department Regional Gang Unit, the defendants were located as they were descending the trail with spray paint in their possession and cited by U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers.
"Wilderness areas are special and rare areas designated by Congress for all of us to enjoy, and afforded a level of protection to preserve their unique values," said Ed Monnig, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor. "We are pleased that a concerned citizen reported the vandalism, and that our partners, the Washoe County Sheriff's Department, Washoe County Parks Department, and Reno Police Department's Regional Gang Unit, assisted our Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers in finding and charging the violators. We also want to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of the U.S. Attorney's Office in pursuing this important case."
All three defendants are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court today at 3:00 p.m. for an initial appearance and arraignment before United States Magistrate Judge Valerie P. Cooke.
If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case is being investigated by the United States Forest Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James E. Keller.
U.S. Forest Service employees and Friends of Nevada Wilderness have scheduled a cleanup day to remove the graffiti from the Mount Rose Wilderness on August 9. Contact Wes Hoskins, Friends of Nevada Wilderness Trip Coordinator, to learn more details for the cleanup day at 775-324-7667.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.