Man sentenced for growing pot on public land
FRESNO — José Diego Contreras-Ramírez, 26, of Mazatlán, Mexico, was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana grown on public land, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill also ordered Contreras to pay the U.S. Forest Service $1,763 to clean up the site. Upon completion of his prison term, Contreras is subject to deportation to Mexico.
According to court documents, Contreras assisted in growing 15,204 marijuana plants in the Nobe Young Creek area of the Sequoia National Forest. In so doing, native vegetation was destroyed to make room for the plants. Trash, fertilizer and insecticide containers were strewn throughout the grow site. When authorities encountered Contreras at the grow site, he was armed with a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Officers also found an assault rifle at the campsite, along with 50,640 marijuana seeds, ammunition and a digital scale.