Mexican National Sentenced for Harmful Marijuana Cultivation Operation in Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County
FRESNO, Calif. — U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd sentenced Raul Cardenas-Solis (Cardenas), 22, a citizen of Michoacán, Mexico, today to three years and 10 months in prison for conspiring to cultivate marijuana on public land, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
In addition to his prison sentence, Judge Drozd ordered Cardenas to pay $11,195 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service to defray the costs of cleaning up the area damaged by the cultivation operation.
On March 12, 2018, Cardenas pleaded guilty to the charges. According to court documents, in July, 2017, law enforcement officers found Cardenas checking water lines at a marijuana cultivation site in the North Meadow Creek area in Tulare County in the Sequoia National Forest. Cardenas resided at the site, which contained 10,488 marijuana plants. 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 dumped at the site.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar prosecuted the case.