FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment today against Jose Antonio Reyna-Chavez (Reyna), 18, of Michoacán, Mexico, charging him with conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, manufacturing marijuana, possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, damaging public land and natural resources, and avoiding immigration officers, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Reyna was involved in the cultivation of 1,539 marijuana plants in the Blue Canyon area of the Sierra National Forest in Fresno County when he attempted to flee from law enforcement officers. The cultivation operation was within three miles of a public campground and about seven miles from Shaver Lake. The marijuana cultivation caused significant damage to the land and natural resources of the forest. Six large helicopter net loads of material and debris, including fertilizer, propane tanks, and poisons, were removed from the grow site.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.
Reyna has been ordered detained pending trial and is scheduled for arraignment and plea on the indictment on August 6, 2014.
If convicted of the more serious drug offenses, Reyna faces a minimum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.