FRESNO, Calif .– Luis Madrigal-Reyes, 37, a native Mexican citizen, sentenced today to two years and five months in prison for conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana with intent to distribute, U.S. Attorney General Phillip A., announced Talbert.
Madrigal was also asked to pay the U.S. Forest Service $ 48,000 in compensation for the extreme damage caused by the cultivation operation on public land.
According to court records, the grower consisted of 2,307 marijuana plants in the Sierra National Forest in Madera County. US Forest Service agents saw Madrigal carrying fertilizer into the acreage and later arrested him after chasing him down a mountain. The cultivation has caused significant damage to the area that serves as the habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, an endangered species, and the California spotted owl, which is currently being considered for inclusion in the Endangered Species Act. Agents found deadly banned pesticides sprayed directly on the plants.
The acreage was in the watershed of Chiquito Creek, which flows into the Fresno River before it flows into the San Joaquin River. Approximately 8.55 million gallons of water were diverted from a nearby natural stream to irrigate the marijuana plants.
This case was the result of an investigation by the US Forest Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Department of Justice’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), and the Madera County Sheriff’s Office. The environmental damage to the forest has been analyzed and documented by the Integral Ecology Research Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to the research and conservation of wild animals and their ecosystems. Assistant US Attorney Karen A. Escobar is pursuing the case.
Madrigal’s co-defendant, Lester Eduardo Cardenas Flores, 24, also a native and Mexican citizen, is due to be sentenced on November 15, 2021. He faces a mandatory statutory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. and a $ 10 million fine. However, the actual sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court, taking into account all applicable legal factors and federal constitutional guidelines, which take a number of variables into account.