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Man pleads guilty to marijuana cultivation in wilderness area

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Posted at 1:44 PM, Apr 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-22 16:43:59-04

FRESNO, Calif. — A man has pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana, according to officials.

The Kern County Sheriff's Office help arrest 31-year-old Mauricio Vaca-Bucio of Mexico after a two-month investigation in the Kiavah Wilderness.

According to court documents, Vaca and his co-defendants, Felipe Angeles Valdez Colima and Rodolfo Torres-Galvan, were apprehended in the federally designated wilderness area-- located in the Sequoia National Forest.

Officials reportedly stopped all three suspects in Weldon after they were spotted coming from the forest in a Camaro driven by Vaca.

During the stop, officials say they found freshly harvested marijuana in the Camaro and located over 1,800 marijuana plants at the grow site on the trail that led to the drop point. Deadly illegal pesticides, including carbofuran and zinc phosphide, in both the vehicle and at the grow site were also found during the search.

In addition to Vaca's guilty plea, he agreed to pay over $7,000 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for the damage he caused to the National Forest.

Vaca faces a minimum statutory penalty of ten years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, along with a $10 million fine. He is scheduled for sentencing on July 29.