Arvin Residents Indicted For Marijuana Cultivation In Sequoia National Forest
SEP 10 -- FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Fresno returned an indictment today charging Guillermo Diaz (aka Joaquin Beltran, aka Daniel Morales), 23, and Salvador Rivera, 50, both of Arvin, with four counts of conspiring to cultivate 1,000 or more marijuana plants, manufacturing marijuana, possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, and destruction of public lands and resources as a result of marijuana cultivation.
This case is the product of a six-month investigation conducted by the U.S. Forest Service, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Land Management, Kern County Sheriff’s Department, Bakersfield Police Department, and Taft Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.
According to court documents, Diaz and Rivera transported and supplied materials and equipment to a marijuana grow site in the Sequoia National Forest consisting of approximately 4,375 marijuana plants. This area had been used by other marijuana cultivators in the past. Based on the amount of trash, water lines, and other items at the site, the cost of reclamation will exceed $3,000. In addition to the debris, the vegetation and land was altered by the cutting of native vegetation.
If convicted of the drug charges, Diaz and Rivera face a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum term of life imprisonment, along with a $4 million fine. They also face a maximum 10 year prison term for the destruction of public lands, a fine of up to $250,000, and restitution to the U.S. Forest Service. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Diaz and Rivera have been ordered detained as a flight risk and danger to the community. They are next scheduled to appear in U.S. Magistrate Court in Fresno on September 16, when they will be arraigned on the charges.
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.