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Gustine marijuana cultivator sentenced to 10 years in prison

POSTED May 21, 2010 10:16 p.m.

A Gustine man who was convicted by a federal court of cultivating marijuana in Fresno County was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Heriberto Sicairos-Quintero, 55, of Gustine was convicted on Dec. 11, 2009 for manufacturing marijuana, aiding and abetting the manufacture of marijuana and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, Sicairos-Quintero was apprehended by federal and state officers on July 13, 2009, 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 marijuana site for reclamation and clean up, they unexpectedly saw a live marijuana cultivation site across another canyon. Officers went to investigate and arrested 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.

Over the past several years, large scale marijuana production on public lands in California has escalated at a rapid pace,” said United States Attorney Benjamin Wagner. “The rampant cultivation of marijuana on remote public lands poses significant problems for the law enforcement community and threatens the public. Many growers have firearms and other dangerous weapons and damage ecosystems with excessive amounts of fertilizers, pesticides and rodenticides, by diverting natural water sources and by dumping trash and waste.”

This case was a product of Operation Save Our Sierras, a multi-agency marijuana eradication effort in Fresno County in the summer of 2009 that resulted in the eradication of over 423,000 marijuana plants on public land in less than two weeks.

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