Four men were indicted Thursday for their involvement in a large marijuana cultivation operation in the Sierra National Forest, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said.
The men were identified as Francisco Javier Gomez-Rodriguez, 37, Alejandro Ramirez-Rojo, 30, and Humberto Ceballos-Rangel, 37, all of Mexico, and Anthony Isaac Santibanez, 19, of Woodlake.
The men were each charged with conspiracy, manufacturing marijuana, distributing marijuana and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute.
They were also charged with damaging public land and natural resources.
According to court documents, Ceballos-Rangel was found at a campsite within the marijuana cultivation site, where agents found 5,904 marijuana plants and a loaded firearm.
Gomez-Rodriguez, Ramirez-Rojo, and Santibanez were found a short time later approaching the site in a vehicle previously identified as being used for the delivery of supplies to the site.
A .22-caliber rifle was also found in the vehicle, along with .40 caliber rounds of ammunition.
The men cut vegetation to accommodate the marijuana plants and diverted water from a nearby creek to irrigate the plants, Wagner said.
The men are scheduled to appear in federal court Friday.
If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million for each drug count, Wagner said.
They also face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for the environmental charge.