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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 21, 2014

Foreign National Indicted For Growing 3,724 Marijuana Plants In The Plumas National Forest

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment today against Mexican national Alejandro Soto-Silva, 21, charging him with conspiracy to cultivate marijuana, cultivation of marijuana, and depredation of public lands and resources, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, on July 30, 2014, United States Forest Service agents and Plumas County Sheriff’s deputies entered a large marijuana cultivation site on the Plumas National Forest near the Soda Creek drainage. Officers located more than 3,700 marijuana plants at the site. Soto-Silva was arrested after attempting to flee from approaching law enforcement. He is in custody. The marijuana cultivation caused significant damage to the land and natural resources of the Plumas National Forest. Law enforcement observed irrigation piping running from a water source to man-made reservoirs used to water the thousands of marijuana plants under cultivation. The cultivation site sits within an area that provides habitat for several threatened or endangered animals, including Delta smelt, Chinook salmon, and the California red-legged frog.

This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Forest Service and the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Christiaan Highsmith is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Soto-Silva faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the marijuana cultivation charges and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the depredation of public lands and resources charge. Any sentence, however, would 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. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Press Release Number: 
Docket #: 2:14-cr-234 KJM
Updated April 8, 2015