Illegal Marijuana Task Force Busts Three Neighboring Properties With 113 Cannabis Greenhouses Combined; Code Enforcement Issues Fines Totaling $1.2 Million (Photo)
IMET Case 22-16995
RURAL ROGUE RIVER, Ore. – Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) detectives served a search warrant at three neighboring properties growing and processing black-market cannabis last Thursday morning. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies, Oregon State Police Southwest Region Drug Enforcement Section team, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Medford assisted with the warrant service. Jackson County Code Enforcement issued a total of $1.249 million in fines to the property owners.
The three marijuana grow and processing facilities located on the 18400 block of East Evans Creek Road in rural Rogue River contained 113 greenhouses with approximately 8,675 black-market marijuana plants, 7,155 lbs. of processed illegal cannabis, and $46,000 cash. This case was the result of a months-long investigation of a black-market marijuana growing and processing operation. Detectives identified the primary suspects and investigations are ongoing. The three separate properties are owned by different individuals.
On the property 17 workers and one child were detained, interviewed, and released. HSI Medford agents identified and interviewed the potential victims of forced labor trafficking with the assistance of HSI Victim Advocate Specialists (VAS) and Forensic Interview Specialists (FIS). UNETE Oregon, a center for farmworker advocacy, responded to assist the workers and provide support services. UNETE partners directly with IMET through Oregon Criminal Justice Commission grant funding in our mutual effort to address the poor treatment of migrant workers being victimized at Illegal marijuana grows.
Code Enforcement responded to the scene to conduct an independent investigation. Code Enforcement issued citations to the property owners totaling $701,000. The violations included 113 unpermitted greenhouse structures, unpermitted electrical and mechanical installations, unpermitted accessory structures, failing to obtain marijuana land use approval, camping within a marijuana grow site, and solid waste. Code enforcement fined one of the properties last year for similar violations. That property owner is now facing continuing fines totaling $548,000 for failing to correct the original violations.
While regulatory agencies investigate permitted cannabis operations, IMET is focusing on the black-market marijuana trade in the Rogue Valley. IMET is a multi-agency task force funded by a grant from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. The task force includes personnel from JCSO, Medford Police Department, HSI, Code Enforcement, Oregon Water Resources Department District 13 Watermasters, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s office.
Investigations are open and ongoing with detectives working additional leads. No further information is currently available for release.
NOTE: Video Available on YouTube (https://youtu.be/XmP7RFzlxwE)