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Kern County Man Gets 12 Years for Illegal Sequoia Marijuana Grow



David Moreno Florez, 28, of Taft, was sentenced in a Fresno courtroom on Friday. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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An illegal marijuana grower no longer will be free to destroy the Sequoia National Forest.

David Moreno Florez, 28, of Taft, received a 12-year sentence on Friday from U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston in a Fresno courtroom.

Florez’s sentence followed his guilty pleas in April to illegally growing marijuana and using an AR-15-style rifle to protect the Fresno County mountain site.

2,400 Plants, Man-Made Dams

According to court documents, the grow contained more than 2,400 marijuana plants along with chemicals, fertilizers, and man-made dams that diverted water from nearby creeks

The officers who hiked into the site in August 2019 also arrested Marino Cruz Diaz, who has pleaded guilty to charges related to the grow. He is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 19.

The U.S. Forest Service investigated the case. The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin J. Gilio.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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