MPs uncover massive illegal marijuana operation in southern Oregon
KLAMATH FALLS – MPs this week stumbled upon a major illegal marijuana operation in southern Oregon, finding a quantity of marijuana with an estimated market value of over $ 100 million, authorities said.
A 27,000 square foot potato shed south of Klamath Falls was filled with marijuana in various stages of processing, the Herald and News reported. Authorities said the marijuana was drying in giant strands that stretched from the roof to the ground, the buds had been pruned and stuffed into 40-pound bags, hundreds of those bags were stacked against a wall and years of rubbish of discarded marijuana were in piles ready for disposal.
Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kaber said on Friday he had never seen anything like it in 30 years of police work. It was found Wednesday after someone called for possible smoke in the area.
The arriving MPs noticed that the back of a nearby building was open and they could clearly see marijuana inside, Kaber said.
âOur MPs showed up and they saw what they saw and they couldn’t see it,â Kaber said.
The sheriff’s office executed a search warrant on Thursday. Those there at the time were questioned but were not arrested. Inside the building, camp beds were set up where the workers slept.
After securing the area and identifying some of the people at the scene, officers documented the property. And then a number of county agencies started removing the marijuana and cleaning up, which will take days, if not weeks.
The search of the potato shed led detectives to two more growing operations related to the processing facility, where they found more marijuana and processing equipment, the sheriff said. The three sites were linked by land ownership, rental contracts and the rental of heavy equipment at multiple locations under one name, Kaber said.
No weapons or cash were found at any of the sites.
Many illegal crops in the county operate on properties owned by local landowners, who tend to rent their property to outsiders who claim to want to grow legal hemp. In reality, people who farm illegally get a good price for a place to farm at the expense of the landowner, who bears most of the risk, the sheriff said.
Cultures often require an enormous amount of water, stolen from local wells and rivers, in order to nourish the crops. The problem has plagued many residents of Klamath County, in addition to the smell and sometimes threats of violence from those who exploit and protect the crops.
– The Associated Press