The defendant accused of illegally growing marijuana on U.S. Forest Service land near Carbondale made his first court appearance Wednesday.
Fernando Esquivel Herrera is being charged in U.S. District Court with “conspiracy to manufacture … and possess with intention to distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants.” That carries a minimum 10 year sentence. He was arrested last week near Redstone in the White River National Forest.
Officers reported finding 2,735 marijuana plants, as well irrigation hosing and a large campsite. There were seven sleeping bags at the site, and officers witnessed a second suspect running through the brush. No other suspects have been arrested.
About eight acres of Forest Service land were damaged by the grow operation.