On Monday, a two-year investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and multiple other federal, state and local agencies into a marijuana grow operation in a rural area of the state began to take a dramatic turn when a search warrant was executed on the home of the suspects. What agents found when they arrived at the house was a massive marijuana grow operation that officials said was estimated to be worth $50 million, with the marijuana being shipped out of state.
An illegal marijuana grow operation with an estimated $50 million in marijuana seized in a bust that included the seizure of 1,500 marijuana plants and $1.5 million in cash has been shut down. The raids occurred as part of a month-long investigation by the Kahuku-based Drug Enforcement Administration and the Hawaii County Narcotics Enforcement Division.
YONCALLA, Ore. — YONCALLA, Ore. — According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, a large-scale illegal marijuana grow operating under the pretense of a legitimate hemp business has been taken down by law authorities.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team (DINT) conducted a search warrant in the 1000-block of Scotts Valley Road on September 1, 2021, according to a statement from the DCSO. An inquiry into a large-scale black-market marijuana cultivation enterprise led to the warrant.
On the basis of information from concerned people, law enforcement became aware of the operation.
When law enforcement came, around 30-50 employees started leaving the scene on foot. Jose Francisco Figueroa-Aguilar, 44, of Modesto, California, was identified as the operation’s “manager” and was detained and booked into the Douglas County Jail on charges of Unlawful Possession and Unlawful Manufacture of Marijuana.
Multiple cars, tents, and two RVs were discovered hidden beneath greenhouses and in the woods by deputies. Garbage, fertilizer, containers, and human waste were also discovered on the site, all of which were close to Elk Creek.
Two big swimming pools were used as water storage tanks, with water pumps from Elk Creek supplying the water. Water pumps are supposed to be metered, but they weren’t.
On the site, there were about 150 greenhouses with 49,152 marijuana plants. Throughout the growing process, tests on the marijuana showed significant amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). On the land, there were no hemp plants to be found. The marijuana found is believed to have a street worth of $50,000,000.
The marijuana plants were being harvested, but it didn’t seem that any had been released into the neighborhood when the search warrant was executed.
Law authorities spent two days eradicating and destroying the marijuana plants due to the scale of the illicit enterprise. Additional charges may be filed as a result of the inquiry.
A significant number of black-market marijuana grows disguised as sanctioned hemp grows are popping up in local towns in Douglas County, as well as several other Oregon counties.
Organized criminal groups are funding and running these activities. Contact the Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team at (541) 440-4474 if you have concerns about a potential illicit marijuana operation in your neighborhood.
DINT, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the Douglas County Water Master, and the Douglas County Public Works Department all helped the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.