Mexican National Pleads Guilty to Growing Marijuana in Sequoia National Forest
FRESNO, Calif. — Raul Cardenas-Solis (Cardenas), 31, a citizen of Michoacán, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to cultivate marijuana on public land, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Cardenas was found checking irrigation lines at a marijuana cultivation site in the North Meadow Creek area in Tulare County in the Sequoia National Forest. Law enforcement officers found 10,488 marijuana plants at the site where Cardenas resided. The cultivation operation caused extensive damage to the land and natural resources as a result of deforestation, pesticide and fertilizer use, the diversion of natural water sources, and trash disposal. Cardenas has agreed to pay $11,195 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service to clean up the area damaged by the cultivation operation.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service with assistance from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.
Cardenas is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Dale A. Drozd on June 4, 2018. Cardenas faces a minimum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million 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.