2 Mexican citizens indicted in marijuana-growing case

The Fresno BeeJune 14, 2014 

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted two Mexican citizens on multiple drug charges stemming from a massive pot bust in the Kern County section of Sequoia National Park, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department said.

Spokeswoman Lauren Horwood said that on June 4, U.S. Forest Service agents and Kern County sheriff's deputies found more than 5,500 marijuana plants in a Kern River drainage ditch. Native vegetation was ripped from the ground to make room for the plants.

Authorities arrested Pedro Pantoja-Padilla, 46, at the scene. A second suspect, Jesus Avalos-Cervantes, 26, evaded capture but was identified by documents left behind at the scene.

Horwood said that Pantoja-Padilla faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine if convicted. Avalos-Cervantes faces a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine if convicted.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6015 or at rappleton@fresnobee.com.

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