Marijuana Grower in Shasta-Trinity National Forest Sentenced
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Carlos Gutierrez Gonzalez, 23, of Michoacán, Mexico, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller to four years and two months in prison and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for growing marijuana on the National Forest and for depredation of Public Lands and Resources, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Gutierrez Gonzalez along with several other men, were growing marijuana in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest to the west of Weaverville, near Limedyke Mountain at an elevation of approximately 2,500 feet. On August 7, 2017, law enforcement officers executed a search of the grow. When they arrested Gutierrez Gonzalez, a loaded .45-caliber handgun was found near him and a bullet for that gun was in his pocket. Over 2,500 marijuana plants were found and eradicated. A camp site was found where the men had camped.
The environmental damage to the grow site was investigated and documented by Integral Ecology Research Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to the research and conservation of wildlife and their ecosystems which has investigated over 100 of such public land marijuana grow sites.
The report of the investigation was filed with the court, and it found that at this grow site they found a half-full 33.8 oz. bottle of carbofuran hidden among the fertilizer bags and a bag containing an estimated 20 pounds of powder carbofuran. A food bottle found at the site had been reused and contained a mixture of refried beans and carbofuran (suspected bait for animals). Four cisterns were discovered with stopped-up mountain streams for use in the marijuana grow’s irrigation system with an estimated 4,500 feet of plastic water lines and over 1,500 pounds of soluble fertilizer. The report estimates that the operation used over 15,000 gallons of water per day. Open campsite latrines were found in proximity to waterways which would cause watershed contamination from fecal matter after the next substantial rain. About 1,000 pounds of trash and 500 pounds of plastic pipe were hauled out of the site. Tests on samples of the marijuana plants determined that carbofuran was present in the plant material.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service with the assistance of agents from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the North State Marijuana Investigation Team and deputies of the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Bender prosecuted the case.
Co-defendant Sebastian Martinez Arreola, who had been in the grow site approximately 11 days at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty to marijuana cultivation charges and was sentenced to 20 months in prison on February 28, 2018. Charges are pending against Armando Mayorga Garcia. The charges are only allegations; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.