Sierra National Forest Marijuana Cultivator Pleads Guilty
FRESNO, Calif. —Jose Antonio Reyna-Chavez (Reyna), 19, from Michoacán, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Reyna was involved in the cultivation of 1,539 marijuana plants in the Blue Canyon area of the Sierra National Forest in Fresno County when he attempted to flee from law enforcement officers. The cultivation operation was within three miles of a public campground and about seven miles from Shaver Lake. At the site, law enforcement officers found marijuana plants, processed marijuana, a digital scale, an AK-47 style assault rifle with a loaded high-capacity magazine, and a 12 gauge pump action shotgun. The marijuana cultivation operation also caused significant damage to the land and natural resources of the forest. Six large helicopter net loads of material and debris, including fertilizer, propane tanks, and poisons, were removed from the grow site. Reyna has agreed to pay $10,000 to the U.S. Forest Service to compensate it for the cleanup costs.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the California National Guard, and Fresno County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.
Reyna was previously detained as a flight risk and danger to the community and is scheduled for sentencing on October 26, 2015. He faces 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million for the drug conspiracy and a mandatory minimum consecutive five year term up to life in prison for the gun charge. 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.