Forest Pot Grow Endangered Environment, Mexican National Pled Guilty
Sonora, CA — A Mexican nation has admitted to working an illegal pot grow that used deadly chemicals in the Stanislaus National Forest threatening plants, water and cattle.
37-year-old Eleno Fernandez-Garcia, a citizen of Mexico, pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, relayed Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert. The operation began sometime before March of this year. Found at the site with pruning shears in hand, Fernandez-Garcia was surrounded by 9,654 pot plants and 200 pounds of processed marijuana.
The grow site in the Basin Creek drainage area of Tuolumne County was near recreational activities and a natural spring used for bottled water. Besides native plants being cut down to make room for the marijuana cultivation, there was “significant damage” to the environment. Agents uncovered large amounts of trash, irrigation tubing, lethal restricted chemicals like aluminum phosphide, fertilizer, and a dead raccoon at the operation. It signaled danger to the cattle, say prosecutors, as the site was “in a grazing permit area where cows roamed freely and had access to the plants and chemicals.”
Apart from the guilty plea, Fernandez-Garcia agreed to pay $45,688 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for the damage that the cultivation operation had on public land.
At his Aug. 6th sentencing date, a judge will decide whether Fernandez-Garcia spends the minimum 10 years or a maximum penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. His entire plea agreement can be viewed here.