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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Drug Trafficker Sentenced

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
Drug Trafficker Sentenced

A man found guilty of drug trafficking in the park was sentenced in mid-November to 10 years in federal prison for growing thousands of marijuana plants in Sequoia and Kings Canyon and being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. Gilberto Ontiveros Valencia, a Mexican national, was arrested by park rangers during a raid on a marijuana grow site in the park in 2009.

Following the arrest, agents from the Investigative Services Branch continued the investigation and prosecution. Ontiveros Valencia was suspected of having been responsible for all the marijuana grow sites within one canyon in the park since 2002, and ISB had linked him to two marijuana grow sites within the park in 2005. Ontiveros Valencia was also responsible for damaging over five acres of previously undisturbed park land.

During cleanup operations at the site, rangers removed over a half ton of garbage, 10,000 feet of irrigation hose, and a wide array of hazardous materials, including fertilizers, pesticides, rodenticides, and propane canisters. Ontiveros Valencia was sentenced to ten years in prison and was ordered to pay $59,094 in restitution to the park for the costs of cleanup operations and for the damage to natural resources.

This successful prosecution provides an excellent example of the strong working relationship between the Investigative Services Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the park rangers of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

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