Crime - Sacto 911

Man pleads guilty to growing marijuana, damaging Plumas National Forest lands

A 22-year-old man from Mexico has pleaded guilty to growing more than 3,700 marijuana plants in the Plumas National Forest, an operation that U.S. Forest Service officials say caused at least $9,500 in damage to forest habitat.

Alejandro Soto-Silva, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Sacramento to cultivation of marijuana and depredation of public lands and resources, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

According to court documents, on July 30, 2014, U.S. forest Service agents and Plumas County sheriff’s deputies entered a large marijuana cultivation site in the Plumas National Forest near the Soda Creek drainage. Officers found more than 3,700 marijuana plants on the site, and Soto-Silva was arrested after he attempted to flee.

Officials said the marijuana cultivation caused significant damage to the land and natural resources in the forest. Law enforcement officers found irrigation piping running from a water source to man-made reservoirs used to water the thousands of marijuana plants. Authorities said rehabilitation and remediating of habitat damaged by the cultivation operation will cost the U.S. Forest Service at least $9,500.

Soto-Silva is in custody and is to be sentenced April 15 by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.