River­side woman pleads guilty in for­est pot grow case

Porterville Recorder - - NEWS - Recorder@porter­villere­corder.com

FRESNO — Coral Her­rera pleaded guilty Mon­day to con­spir­ing to man­u­fac­ture, dis­trib­ute and pos­sess with in­tent to dis­trib­ute, and man­u­fac­tur­ing mar­i­juana in con­nec­tion with two sep­a­rate large-scale mar­i­juana cul­ti­va­tion op­er­a­tions in Kern County in the Se­quoia Na­tional For­est, U.S. At­tor­ney Phillip A. Tal­bert an­nounced.

Her­rera, 21, of Per­ris, also agreed to pay resti­tu­tion to the U.S. For­est Ser­vice for the dam­age to pub­lic land and nat­u­ral re­sources caused by the mar­i­juana cul­ti­va­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Her­rera was linked to grow sites in the Lu­cas Creek drainage and an area known as the Box 6 site af­ter a four-month in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that she was sup­ply­ing ma­te­rial, equip­ment, and per­son­nel to the grow sites, which con­sisted of 10,396 mar­i­juana plants, and that she was also re­spon­si­ble for trans­port­ing co-de­fen­dants Abel Toledo-villa, 34, and Al­fredo Car­de­nas-suastegui, 56, both na­tives and cit­i­zens of Mex­ico, away from the Box 6 grow site af­ter it was raided. The mar­i­juana cul­ti­va­tion op­er­a­tions caused ex­ten­sive dam­age to the land and nat­u­ral re­sources. Harm­ful pes­ti­cides and large amounts of trash were found at both sites. Na­tive trees and veg­e­ta­tion were also re­moved to make room for the mar­i­juana plants.

This case is the prod­uct of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the U.S. For­est Ser­vice, U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment’s (ICE) Home­land Se­cu­rity In­ves­ti­ga­tions (HSI), South­ern Tri-county High In­ten­sity Drug Traf­fick­ing Area (HIDTA) task force, Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Justice’s Cam­paign Against Mar­i­juana Plant­ing (CAMP), Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Fish and Wildlife, Kern County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, River­side County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment, Fon­tana Po­lice Depart­ment, and Vic­torville Po­lice Depart­ment. As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Karen Es­co­bar is pros­e­cut­ing the case.

Her­rera is sched­uled for sen­tenc­ing on Dec. 4, by U.S. Dis­trict Judge Lawrence J. O’neill. She faces a max­i­mum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 mil­lion. Toledo-villa pre­vi­ously en­tered a guilty plea and was sen­tenced to five years in prison. Charges against Car­de­nas­suastegui and Mal­don­ado-soto are still pend­ing.

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