Feds hand down indictment in 'particularly egregious' pot operation

FRESNO, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A Bakersfield man and an illegal immigrant from Mexico were indicted Thursday for growing more than 500 marijuana plants on an ecological reserve.

"It is particularly egregious because the crimes occurred in an area that is home to endangered, protected and rare animals and plants," U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said in a news release.

The indictment charges Cruz Soria, 27, of Bakersfield, and Mairo Correa-Garcia, 18, of Michoacán, Mexico, with three narcotics offenses, according to federal prosecutors.

According to the court record, Soria and Correa-Garcia were responsible for cultivating marijuana in the Fay Canyon of the Canebrake Ecological Reserve.

Officers seized the plants, about 12 pounds of processed marijuana and a stolen firearm.

Among the plants, officers also found several highly toxic chemicals, including a rat poison that is illegal to use in the United States without a license and an insecticide that has been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency for use on crops consumed by humans.

The defendants are scheduled for arraignment next week in federal court in Fresno. If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.