Mexican National Sentenced for Marijuana Cultivation Operation in Sequoia National Forest
FRESNO, Calif. — Jose Manuel Sanchez-Zapien, aka “Chacal” (Sanchez), 38, a citizen of Mexico from Coalcomán, Michoacán, residing in Dos Palos, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for conspiring to manufacture marijuana, and manufacturing marijuana in the Sequoia National Forest, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. Sanchez was also ordered to pay $8,665 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for damage to public land and natural resources caused by the cultivation operation.
According to court documents, between August 26, 2016 and June 13, 2017, Sanchez delivered supplies to growers at a marijuana cultivation site in Alder Creek in the Sequoia National Forest. The drop point had been used numerous times in the past to bring supplies to marijuana growers in the Slick Rock Creek drainage area. Law enforcement officers found over 20,952 marijuana plants at the Alder Creek site.
Approximately three acres of public land were almost completely stripped of vegetation and the ground was terraced to accommodate the marijuana plants. Large amounts of ammonium nitrate and other fertilizers, Spectracide brand insecticide containers, and trash were scattered throughout the site.
Co-defendant Maximiliano Farias-Martinez allegedly supervised Sanchez and others associated with the site. He is scheduled for trial on November 27, 2018. The charges as to Farias are only allegations, and he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General’s Office of Investigations, and the Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team (MAGNET). Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.