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Federal conviction for Gustine man

POSTED December 18, 2009 11:01 p.m.
A Gustine man was found guilty by a federal court jury of cultivating marijuana in Fresno County.
Heriberto Sicairos-Quintero, 54, was convicted on two counts of manufacturing and aiding and abetting the manufacture of marijuana and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
The case is the product of Operation Save our Sierras, a multi-agency marijuana eradication effort in Fresno County.
According to Assistant United States Attorneys Ian L. Garriques, Kevin P. Rooney, and Karen A. Escobar, who prosecuted the case, Sicairos-Quintero was apprehended by federal and state officers during Operation SOS on July 13, in the Shaver Lake/Jose Basin area of the Sierra National Forest in Fresno County. At trial, officers testified that while they were leading a volunteer team toward a prior marijuana site for reclamation and cleanup, they unexpectedly saw a live marijuana cultivation site across another canyon. Officers went to investigate and apprehended Sicairos-Quintero on a trail just above a cultivation site with over 7,000 marijuana plants. Sicairos-Quintero had a loaded handgun in his waistband and said he had been paid to cook at the grow for 30 days. Officers also found numerous firearms, cultivating materials, fertilizers, irrigation hoses, and trash at the site that had to be airlifted out of the area.
Sicairos-Quintero faces a minimum prison sentence of 10 years, a maximum term of life, and a fine of $4 million for the marijuana manufacturing charge. For the charge of carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, he faces a minimum prison sentence of five years, a maximum term of life, and a fine of $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court. Sentencing is set for Feb. 22, 2010.

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