Law enforcement agencies in Oregon raided multiple illegal cannabis cultivation operations this week.
On Monday, August 30, the Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) simultaneously served two search warrants at grow sites in Beatty, Oregon.
Members of the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, and the Klamath Falls Police Department assisted in serving the warrants.
According to a Klamath Falls Police Department press release, both operations were allegedly hemp operations, but neither had licenses or permits.
Onsite testing determined that the plants being grown were THC-rich and not hemp.
Authorities used a Klamath County bulldozer to destroy more than 22,000 cannabis plants and the greenhouses at the site.
Law enforcement left the task of cleaning up the site to the landowners who leased their property for the unlicensed cannabis production.
Criminal charges related to the operation were referred to the Klamath County District Attorney’s Office.
House Bill 3000 passed during the most recent session of the Oregon Legislature, allowing law enforcement increased flexibility when destroying illegal cannabis growing operations.
Previous statutes would have required the use of more law enforcement personnel over several days.
The new statute went into effect in July 2021.
According to the press release, Klamath County has an increasing problem with large-scale cannabis grow operations.
Local law enforcement agencies are working to address the issue and say that landowners should know that they can be held liable for illegal cannabis production and the theft and unlawful use of groundwater on their leased properties.
Additionally, property used in such cases may be seized and forfeited.
Detectives with the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) served three search warrants at two black-market growing operations this week, seizing thousands of pounds of cannabis, firearms, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
The multi-agency IMET task force consists of personnel from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), Medford Police Department, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Jackson County Code Enforcement, and the Jackson County Fire District #3 assisted in this week’s operations and will enforce additional fines and penalties on both properties.
The First Property
According to a JCSO press release, the first raid occurred on Tuesday, August 31, at 7:11 a.m.
Investigations led IMET to a property in the 10000 block of Old Stage Road in Gold Hill, where detectives found $643,524 worth of cash in bags, five firearms, and forged identification.
In a storage room, detectives discovered 10,000 pounds of processed cannabis, weighed, separated, and packaged for distribution.
Authorities took 58 people into custody and arrested one man, 33-year-old Mexican citizen Hernan Sanchez Villalobos.
Authorities also arrested the property owner on felony charges of prohibited import or export, unlawful possession, unlawful manufacture, and conspiracy for unlawful distribution of a marijuana item.
There were also charges of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument (fake ID), and laundering a monetary instrument.
According to JSCO, the property owner did not possess permits to grow cannabis for recreational, commercial, or medical purposes.
The Second Property
At approximately 7:49 a.m. on Wednesday, September 1, IMET served a search warrant at a black-market cannabis grow site in the 1000 block of Meridian Road in Eagle Point.
During the raid, detectives found 20,199 plants in 102 greenhouses and 5,000 pounds of processed cannabis.
Authorities took 53 workers into custody, interviewed, and released them.
The property had a license from the Oregon Department of Agriculture to grow hemp but not grow or process THC-rich cannabis for adult use or medical purposes.
According to the press release, IMET focuses on black-market cannabis in the Rogue Valley while regulatory agencies investigate permitted operations.
The Oregon State Police, Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement detectives assisted in both operations along with JSCO deputies.
JSCO says detectives are working on additional leads in the investigations, which are open and ongoing.