Mexican National, Eleno Fernandez-Garcia Pleads Guilty to Damaging Marijuana Cultivation Operation in Stanislaus National Forest in Tuolumne County
FRESNO, CA (STL.News) Eleno Fernandez-Garcia, 37, a citizen of Mexico, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. He also agreed to pay $45,688 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for the damage that the cultivation operation had on public land.
According to court documents, the cultivation operation contained 9,654 marijuana plants and 200 pounds of processed marijuana and was located in the Basin Creek drainage in the Stanislaus National Forest in Tuolumne County. Fernandez was found at the grow site in possession of pruning shears and two cellphones covered with marijuana debris. Three others fled from the area, which is near recreational activities and a natural spring used for bottled water.
The cultivation operation caused significant damage to the environment. Investigative agents found lethal restricted use chemicals (aluminum phosphide), fertilizer, and a dead raccoon at the grow site. Native vegetation was cut down to make room for the marijuana plants. Besides chemicals and fertilizer, there was a large amount of trash and irrigation tubing.