Two Mexican Nationals in the country illegally were arrested based on a Criminal Complaint when law enforcement found a large marijuana grow in the Routt National Forest, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Forest Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Routt County Sheriff’s Office announced. The two arrested, Alfonso Rodriguez-Vazquez and Nestor Fabian Sinaloa-Sinaloa, made their initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Denver this afternoon. Both are due back in court on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. for a detention hearing and a preliminary hearing. Both are currently in custody.
The 3/4-acre illegal grow site was located in the Buffalo Pass area, northeast of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The eradication team collected approximately 1,000 plants and removed camping gear from the site. Additional site clean-up of trash and other items will be ongoing by the U.S. Forest Service.
The grow was found after suspicious activity was reported to the U.S. Forest Service by a citizen, leading to the discovery of the grow site by law enforcement.
The defendants were each charged with the manufacture of marijuana. If convicted, the defendants face not less than 5 years, and not more than 40 years in federal prison. They also each face up to a $5,000,000 fine.
“Abusing the lands that belong to all citizens in order to make drug money is going to get you prosecuted,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Special thanks to the Forest Service, Homeland Security Investigations and the Routt County Sheriff for putting an end to this abuse in the Routt Forest.”
“Under federal law, marijuana possession, use, or cultivation remains illegal on national forest lands” said U.S. Forest Service Special Agent in Charge, Laura Mark. “The Forest Service remains committed to providing safety to forest visitors and employees and protecting the natural resources.” “This includes taking enforcement action for possession, use and cultivation of marijuana on national forest lands.”
“This now-dismantled extensive marijuana grow operation on federal lands in Colorado shows all the signs of a sophisticated drug trafficking organization,” said David A. Thompson, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. “HSI is working together with our other law enforcement partners to investigate this case to identify all those associated with this operation.”