A 42-year-old man pleaded guilty Wednesday to depredation of public land after he was involved in the cultivation of marijuana in Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County.
Juan Carlos Martinez-Tinoco of Mexico was involved in the cultivation of around 2,608 marijuana plants between March 1 and Aug. 4 last year in the area of The Needles, a series of granite rock formations, acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said.
Talbert said Martinez damaged public land when native plants and trees were cut to make room for the grow. He said there was evidence of harmful poisons such as 50-pound bags of nitrogen fertilizer. Trash also was found stuffed under boulders and buried along a water stream.
Water used for the grow drained into nearby Upper Kern River, which contains the Kern River rainbow trout, a “species of special concern,” Talbert said.
Martinez has agreed to pay $4,286 in restoration of the damaged area to the U.S. Forest Service.
Sentencing for Martinez is scheduled for Dec. 5. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison along with a fine of $250,000.