SACRAMENTO— On September 27, 2018, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Gilberto Garcia-Garcia, 26, of Mexico, charging him with conspiring to manufacture and manufacturing at least 1,000 marijuana plants and depredation of public lands and resources.
According to court documents, law enforcement officers who were conducting aerial surveillance spotted two large marijuana cultivation sites near the Big French Creek Road in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, in Trinity County. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, law enforcement officers hiked into the area and observed for nearly an hour Garcia-Garcia and another man tending marijuana plants and harvesting marijuana. The two men fled when they saw the officers; only Garcia-Garcia was apprehended. Officers counted 11,223 marijuana plants at the cultivation site. The plants were covered in a white powder that appeared to be carbofuran, an insecticide that is highly toxic to both humans and wildlife.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Trinity County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney David W. Spencer is prosecuting the case.
“Marijuana cultivation in our forests and on public lands is beyond destructive,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Not only is natural vegetation destroyed to make room for the marijuana grow, toxic chemicals are typically used, and they enter the soil and the water, making it harmful to wildlife. In addition, this is a public safety issue for anyone who may inadvertently walked into the area and encounter the growers.”
If convicted, Garcia-Garcia faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine for each of the marijuana cultivation counts. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the depredation of public lands and resources count.