December 16, 2013
Public Information Officer
US Department of Justice
The following is a news release from the United States Attorney
A federal jury in Portland returned verdicts of guilty Monday, December 16, 2013, in the trial of Fredy Figueroa-Montes, age 34. The counts of conviction included conspiracy to manufacture marijuana which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000' and depredation of government property which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000.
Trial evidence showed that the defendant joined five co-defendants in growing more than 91,000 marijuana plants in the Wallowa Whitman National Forest, and that they used more than 500 pounds of illegal rodenticides, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer to cultivate the marijuana, causing an estimated $97,000 in damage to the Wildcat Creek riparian area. Investigating officers found an Uzi long gun and two pistols in the campsite. The five co-defendants previously pled guilty and were sentenced to periods of incarceration ranging from 30 months to 120 months.
"These convictions are the result of the effective collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement partners," said U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall. "Here in Oregon, federal prosecutors will remain aggressive when it comes to protecting federal enforcement interests that include preventing marijuana from growing on public lands, as well as preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana."
Testimony presented by the government described the outdoor grow as "staggering", encompassing a stretch over one mile and a half in the Wildcat Creek riparian zone, where the marijuana growers disrupted the natural terrain with extensive terracing. The plants were concealed in several separate pods developed by removing trees and underbrush to camouflage the grow site, and miles of plastic irrigation tubing was found. The Marijuana Eradication Team, a trained group of state troopers who work with law enforcement agencies during the summer months to assist with marijuana eradication and investigations related to outdoor marijuana grows, called this the largest marijuana grow ever found in the State of Oregon saying many people would be outraged at the damage to public lands caused by illegal marijuana growers. Evidence presented identified an extensive amount of trash including tubing, plastic plant containers, herbicide and other toxic chemicals that were dumped along a river's edge.
A five-day trial was held in the Federal District Court in Portland, Oregon, with Judge Michael W. Mosman presiding.
The investigation of the marijuana grow site involved the Wallowa County Sheriff's Office, La Grande Police Department, Union/Wallowa County Drug Task Force, Oregon State Police SWAT team, Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT), Wallowa County Search & Rescue, Enterprise Police Department, Union County Sheriff's Office, Baker County Narcotics Enforcement Team, Oregon Army National Guard Counterdrug Program, Oregon State Police Marijuana Enforcement Team, Oregon Department of Justice, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, United States Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, and Wallowa County District Attorney's Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer J. Martin and Certified Law Clerk Courtney Peck prosecuted the case.