Bakersfield Resident Sentenced To 5-year Prison Term For Growing Marijuana On Ecological Reserve
FRESNO, Calif. — Cruz Soria, 29, of Bakersfield, California was sentenced today to 5 years in prison for conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana in the Fay Canyon area of the Canebrake Ecological Reserve, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Soria was also ordered to pay $2,568.85 in restitution to the High Sierra Trail Volunteer Crew for the cost of cleaning up the grow site.
The Canebrake Ecological Reserve is located 10 miles east of Lake Isabella in northeastern Kern County. It was first inhabited in about 1000 B.C. by the Tubatulabel culture and is currently home to numerous rare and protected plants and animals, including the federally-protected golden and bald eagles and peregrine falcon, the federally-threatened California red-legged frog and Valley elderberry longhorn beetle, and the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher.
Soria’s sentence follows his guilty plea last year. In pleading guilty, Soria acknowledged he was responsible for cultivating 454 marijuana plants in the ecological reserve. Law enforcement officers arrested Soria at the grow site and seized the plants, about twelve pounds of processed marijuana, and a firearm. The officers also found several highly toxic chemicals, including Fosfuro de Zinc or zinc phosphide, a rat poison illegal to use in the United States without a license, and Furadan, an insecticide banned by the EPA for usage on crops consumed by humans. Dead coyote, snakes and other animals were found at the grow site. Upon completion of his prison sentence, Soria will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 4 more years.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), California Department of Fish and Game, and Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar prosecuted the case.