Foreign National Pleads Guilty To Firearm Offense, Growing Marijuana In Mendocino National Forest, And Destruction Of National Lands And Resources
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Ivan Espinoza Villafana, 25, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty today to possession of a firearm by an illegal alien, cultivation of marijuana, and depredation of public lands and resources, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, on August 19, 2014, law enforcement officers entered a marijuana cultivation site near Ice Springs in the Mendocino National Forest in Glenn County where 732 marijuana plants were growing. Villafana was arrested at the site and had a Smith & Wesson revolver in his possession. Officers also found a rifle in the camp area of the site. Significant natural resource damage was observed at the site. Vegetation and trees had been cut and removed to improve growing conditions for the marijuana plants, water was diverted from a nearby stream to water the plants, and fertilizers and pesticides were found at the site which, based on the terrain, would likely have drained into waterways in the National Forest. It is estimated that repairing and rehabilitating the marijuana cultivation site at Ice Springs would cost at least $14,400.
This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Forest Service, Glenn County Sheriff’s Office, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Assistant United States Attorney Christiaan Highsmith is prosecuting the case.
Villafana is in custody and is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Troy L. Nunley on April 16, 2015. Villafana faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the marijuana cultivation charge; 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the possession of a firearm by an illegal alien charge; 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.