A Mexican citizen was indicted Thursday for alleged marijuana cultivation on Chowchilla Mountain, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said.
Juan Pedro Jimenez, 39, of Ensenada, Mexico, was found at the cultivation site on Chowchilla Mountain in the Sierra National Forest in Mariposa County on July 8. Federal agents removed 6,919 marijuana plants from the site and found fertilizer, water lines, propane tanks, trash, and other environmentally harmful material. The cultivation allegedly caused extensive damage to the land. Native trees were cut down and hillsides were terraced to plant the marijuana and water was diverted from a nearby creek to irrigate the plants.
Jimenez has been charged with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess marijuana with the intent to distribute. He has also been charged with the environmental crime of manufacturing marijuana in connection with a large-scale cultivation operation in a national forest. Jimenez’s arraignment is scheduled for Friday. If convicted of the drug crimes, he faces a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison and a $5 million dollar fine for each count. If convicted of the environmental crime, Jimenez faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and restitution. He will be subject to deportation to Mexico if convicted.