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Press Release

Defendant Pleads Guilty to Cultivating Marijuana in Sequoia National Forest

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. —Macedonio Madrigal-Herrera (Madrigal), 44, of Michoacán, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, in connection with a large-scale cultivation operation located in the Brush Creek drainage in the Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, Madrigal was responsible for watering 2,719 marijuana plants in the National Forest. The marijuana cultivation activities caused extensive damage to the public land and natural resources. Zinc phosphide, a toxic pesticide from Mexico, was found at the site, along with fertilizer and trash. Trees and plants, newly generated following the 2002 McNally Fire, were cut down to make room for the marijuana. Water was diverted from a nearby stream that supports trout. As part of the plea agreement, Madrigal will pay $4,190 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for the damage caused by his wrongful conduct.

Madrigal is scheduled for sentencing on July 18, 2016. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the California National Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.

Updated April 18, 2016

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 1:15-cr-216 LJO