Three Indicted for Growing Marijuana on National Forest Land
9,800 Marijuana Plants Seized in Trinity County, 6,900 in Tehama County
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned two separate indictments today, charging marijuana cultivation in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the Lassen National Forest, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents in the first case, Clemente Lopez, 31, a Mexican national, was arrested by law enforcement officers on July 26, 2016, during a search of a marijuana-cultivation site in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, near the town of Wildwood. The site contained over 9,800 marijuana plants. During the arrest, another suspect fled the scene after stabbing a Trinity County Sheriff’s Department K-9 in the neck. The K-9 survived.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service and the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Conolly is prosecuting the case.
According to court documents in the second case, on July 25, 2016, Jose Madrigal, 67, and Cesar Mendoza-Madrigal, 44, were arrested at a marijuana cultivation site containing approximately 6,900 marijuana plants in the Lassen National Forest, near Judd Creek. In addition to the cultivation charges, both defendants were charged with committing depredation of federal land and resources.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tehama Interagency Drug Enforcement task force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Owen Roth is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, the Lopez faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each count. If convicted, Madrigal and Mendoza-Madrigal face a statutory maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 for the cultivation offenses and up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for the depredation of public lands and resources offense. 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.