Humberto Ceballos-Rangel (Ceballos), 38, of Tuxpan, Jalisco, Mexico, was sentenced Monday to three years in prison in connection with his involvement in a large marijuana cultivation operation found by law enforcement last summer in Sierra National Forest in Madera County, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Ceballos was found at a campsite within a marijuana cultivation site that caused significant damage to public land and natural resources. Native vegetation was cut to accommodate the marijuana plants, foot trails, and cooking and sleeping areas. Water was also diverted from a nearby creek to irrigate the marijuana plants. Agents found and removed from the site insecticide, propane tanks, and a large quantity of trash and hose line. Ceballos pleaded guilty on Jan. 19.
In sentencing Ceballos, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill ordered Ceballos to pay $8,750 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for the costs of cleaning up the site.
The case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the California Department of Justice’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team (MADNET). Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar prosecuted the case.