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Press Release

Two Indicted for Growing Marijuana in Sequoia National Forest in Fresno County

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment today against Marino Cruz Diaz, 21, and David Moreno Florez, 25, both residing in Salinas, charging them with manufacturing more than 1,000 marijuana plants, conspiracy to manufacture more than 1,000 marijuana plants, and depredation of public lands and resources, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. Moreno Florez was also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

According to court documents, law enforcement officers located a clandestine marijuana grow site in Sequoia National Forest in Fresno County. On Aug. 2, 2019, officers hiked into the grow site, where they found and arrested Cruz Diaz and Moreno Florez. Moreno Florez was carrying a loaded, AR-15 style rifle. Officers also found a loaded shotgun in the area. The cultivation site was secured, and 2,448 live marijuana plants were eradicated.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service with assistance from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin J. Gilio is prosecuting the case.

If convicted of the drug conspiracy and manufacturing offenses, the defendants face a mandatory minimum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison, as well as a $10 million fine. The environmental charge carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, the defendants may be liable for restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for damage sustained to the land and natural resources as a result of the cultivation activities. The firearms charge subjects Moreno Florez to a potential five-year consecutive prison term. 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.

Updated August 15, 2019

Drug Trafficking