Marijuana Cultivator Indicted for Growing Marijuana in Mendocino National Forest and Environmental Destruction
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Pablo Barreto-Cruz, 40, of Michoacán, Mexico, charging him with marijuana cultivation and depredation of public lands and resources, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, law enforcement conducted a month-long investigation of a suspected drop point for a marijuana grow in the Mendocino National Forest in Glenn County. On May 12, agents encountered Barreto-Cruz on a remote Forest Service road near the suspected drop point. Close by, investigators discovered nearly 3,000 marijuana plants and a camp area.
A Forest Service fisheries biologist estimated that the resource damage, rehabilitation, and repair of the site would cost far more than $1,000. The report concluded that the marijuana grow represented a threat to water quality and aquatic resources due to their use of fertilizer and pesticides that will likely reach water in the wet winter months. Further, the report noted that the chemicals at the site include labeled fertilizers, labeled rodenticides and unlabeled pink powder believed to be a toxic pesticide (carbofuran).
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service and the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Christiaan Highsmith is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Barreto-Cruz faces a minimum statutory penalty of five years in prison, a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. 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.