Mexican Nationals Indicted for Cultivating Marijuana in the Sierra National Forest and the Sequoia National Park
FRESNO, Calif. — On Thursday, a federal grand jury in Fresno returned two indictments, charging five Mexican nationals with separate conspiracies to grow marijuana in national forest land, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
In the first indictment, a federal grand jury charged Merced County residents David Villa Corrales, 34; Teodoro Anaya Garcia, 30; and Gerardo Anaya Garcia, 34, with conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, cultivating marijuana, and damaging public lands and natural resources. According to court documents, the defendants were linked to the cultivation sites after a six-month investigation into a large‑scale cultivation operation in the Carter Creek and Chowchilla Mountain areas of the Sierra National Forest in Madera and Mariposa Counties. The defendants were supplying material, equipment, and personnel to the grow sites, which consisted of approximately 10,000 plants. The marijuana cultivation operation caused extensive damage to the land and natural resources.
This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Department of Justice’s CAMP, the California Air National Guard, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department, the Madera County Sheriff’s Department, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department, and the Merced County Narcotics Task Force.
In the second indictment, a federal grand jury charged Cutler residents Domingo Aquino Altamirano, 27, and Isis Ali Maldonado-Salinas, 23, with conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, cultivating marijuana, and damaging public lands and natural resources. According to court documents, the defendants participate in growing over 1,700 marijuana plants within Sequoia National Park on the eastern slopes of Shepherd Peak. They were arrested on Sunday July 17, 2016. This case is the product of an investigation by the Sequoia National Park.
Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin P. Rooney and Daniel J. Griffin are prosecuting the cases.
If convicted of the most serious drug offenses, David Corrales and Teodoro Anaya Garcia face a mandatory minimum statutory penalty of five years, a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine, and Gerardo Anaya Garcia faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. If convicted of the drug offenses, Altamirano and Maldonado-Salinas face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The environmental crime carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would 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 charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.