SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment today against Armando Vargas Garcia, 37, of Mexico, and Eduardo Montero Aleman, 37, of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, charging them with conspiracy to cultivate marijuana, marijuana cultivation in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and depredation of federal lands and resources, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, between Aug. 29 and Sept. 5, the defendants were involved in the cultivation of 8,656 marijuana plants in the Big Mountain area in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Two compound archery bows, nine arrows, and 42 rounds of hollow-point .22-caliber ammunition were discovered on the site. Officers also discovered bottles of carbofuran, a toxic pesticide, which is banned in the United States. The defendants were arrested on September 5. Both defendants are in custody.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Trinity County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian T. Kinsella is prosecuting the case.

If convicted of either of the marijuana charges, the defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, and a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. If convicted of damaging public lands, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account several variables. These charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.