Fresno man indicted for marijuana cultivation at national forest

A Fresno man has been indicted for marijuana cultivation in the Sierra National Forest, U. S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said.

Rich Xiongpao, 42, is charged with conspiring to manufacture marijuana, manufacturing marijuana in connection with a large-scale cultivation operation in a national forest, as well as depredation of public lands and resources.

According to court documents, Xiongpao was arrested on Sept. 29 after he was found by U.S. Forest Service agents in the Sierra National Forest in Madera County.

Agents removed approximately 428 marijuana plants from the site.

Xiongpao is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on Wednesday, Oct. 14, in federal court in Fresno.

If convicted of the drug offenses, Xiongpao faces up to 40 years in prison, as well as a $5 million fine.

Tomas Kassahun: 559-441-6659, @TomasKassahun