- Associated Press - Monday, February 9, 2015

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Prosecutors say a Central California man was sentenced to prison for growing marijuana in a reserve that’s home to rare and protected plants and animals.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a statement Monday that 29-year-old Cruz Soria of Bakersfield, California illegally grew marijuana in the Canebrake Ecological Reserve. Soria pleaded guilty to growing 454 marijuana plants in exchange for a five-year sentence in federal prison.

Protected eagles and peregrine falcons live in the reserve located in a remote part of Kern County.

Prosecutors say Soria used a banned insecticide and rat poison to that is illegal without a license.

Dead coyote, snakes and other animals were found at the grow site.

Defense attorney Mark Coleman says the sentence was excessive because his client was a worker and didn’t profit greatly from the marijuana grow.

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