DELANO, Calif. - Jerman Madrigal, 20, of Delano, pleaded guilty today to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a marijuana cultivation conspiracy in the Sequoia National Forest, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Madrigal and his co-defendants possessed a loaded .38-caliber revolver and a .223 Bushmaster assault rifle in furtherance of a conspiracy to cultivate and distribute marijuana. Madrigal and his co-defendants were found to be in possession of 16,205 marijuana plants and more than 850 pounds of processed marijuana in the Sentinel Peak area of the Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County. According to court documents, the marijuana cultivation operation caused extensive damage to the land and natural resources. Native vegetation was cut to make room for the marijuana plants. Trash and fertilizer containers were scattered throughout the site, including in a flowing stream.
Eight defendants in this case including Madrigal have pleaded guilty. Six received sentences from 46 to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $3,686.54 in restitution to the Forest Service.
Madrigal is scheduled to be sentenced on December 17, 2012 by Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. Madrigal faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 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.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Bureau of Land Management, Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), California Department of Justice Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), California Department of Fish and Game, and Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.