Man Caught with over 31,000 Marijuana Seeds Admits to Conspiring to Cultivate Marijuana in Giant Sequoia National Monument
FRESNO, Calif. — Rosario Beltran-Leal (Beltran), 43, of Sinaloa, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to manufacture or cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana in the Giant Sequoia National Monument in Tulare County, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Beltran was found last spring bringing over 31,000 marijuana seeds to a cultivation site in a remote area closed to the public in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. He was also in possession of a large quantity of food and cultivation supplies, including 100 hose connectors. In pleading guilty, Beltran acknowledged that he had delivered food supplies to marijuana growers in the same area in 2016. The irrigation system from the previous year was intact. Native vegetation and trees had also been trimmed to make room for the marijuana plants and water had been diverted from a tributary of Mill Creek.
Beltran is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on March 12, 2017. Beltran faces a maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million. 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, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.