A California man was recently convicted in connection with a 2012 marijuana grow in the southern Utah mountains. Authorities say that the marijuana grow was in Iron County on land controlled by the U.S. Forest Service. There were approximately 4,211 marijuana plants found in the grow area, where trees were cut down in the forest and water diverted for the plants.
This arrest comes at a time when an increasing amount of states are legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. Marijuana possession is a minor offense or completely decriminalized in many areas, but the trafficking and cultivation of marijuana can still result in major federal criminal charges.
According to the Department of Justice's Utah division, the 46-year-old Compton man will face 10 years to life in federal prison for his role in the drug cultivation operation.
"We have adopted a policy of being proactive rather than reactive in dealing with drug traffickers attempting to grow marijuana on Utah's public lands," said Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower. "We've been aggressive in our efforts to identify and investigate those cultivating the marijuana as well as those who support the operations, like the defendant convicted in this case. Ultimately, successful cases start with boots on the ground and solid investigative work."
Source: UT DOJ, "JURY CONVICTS JUAREZ-SANCHEZ FOLLOWING TRIAL INVOLVING MARIJUANA GROW OPERATION IN IRON COUNTY," Melodie Rydalch, Jan. 29, 2013