When the Butte County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Enforcement Unit served a search warrant on Long Point Road near Feather Falls in Butte County, they found 632 marijuana plants, weighing up to 13,500 pounds, and six guns at an illegal grow site. Now, two men have pleaded no-contest on charges related to the site and may see jail time due to “environmental violations.”
Tony Moua, 33, of Stockton and Francis Mua, 54, of Merced, both face up to three years and eight months in prison after their grow site included extensive use of fertilizers and chemicals with the potential to flow downhill to streams that feed Lake Oroville. According to Prop 64, marijuana cultivation is simply a misdemeanor, unless there are environmental violations attributed to the grow site.
Following the legalization of recreational marijuana use in California, federal officials pledged to ignore the recreational market and concentrate on cracking down on marijuana grows in the dense wilderness of Northern California, especially the grow operations that use highly toxic pesticides.
Not only do illegal grow operations in the wilderness create safety concerns for outdoor enthusiasts, but they are also finding that 72 percent of illegal grow operations are using the pesticide Carbofuran, which is killing wildlife at an alarming rate.
The charges to Moua and Mua are consistent with the new policies towards illegal marijuana grows in California. The two were living at the site in a makeshift cabin that was packed with firearms, including one stolen. The stiffest evidence against the men came from their own cell phones, which included a bunch of photos and videos of them at the site:
The men are scheduled to be sentenced on October 31.