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Press Release

Mexican National Enters Guilty Plea to Firearm Offense

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — Fernando Daniel Ruvalcaba-Velez, 35, of Jalisco, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to being an alien in possession of a firearm, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, law enforcement officers found Ruvalcaba, an illegal alien who had previously been removed from the United States, in a vehicle in the vicinity of a marijuana cultivation site in the Sequoia National Forest after suspects fled from the site when it was raided. Ruvalcaba flashed his headlights on and off into the woods as a signal to the fleeing suspects. He was in possession of a loaded handgun that he had bought on the street for $600.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.

Ruvalcaba is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on Sept. 30. Ruvalcaba faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 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.

The case was part of Operation Forest Watch, an enforcement effort targeting marijuana cultivation on public land and the damage they cause.

Updated July 8, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 1:18-cr-273 LJO