Task Force Busts Black-Market Marijuana Grow; Destroys 16k Plants; Watermasters Discover One Million Gallons Water Used Illegally, Code Enforcement Issues $180k Fine

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IMET Case 22-7347

Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) detectives served a search warrant on a marijuana grow site near the 9000 block of Hillcrest Road east of Medford. 

The property contained approximately 16,827 illegal cannabis plants in 87 “hoop-style” greenhouses, taking up 5 1/2 acres of the property. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies, Oregon State Police (OSP) Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (RADE) detectives, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assisted with the warrant service. 

On scene, one subject was detained, interviewed, and released. Detectives identified the primary suspects and charges are pending from the Jackson County District Attorney’s office. 

This case was the result of a nine-month long investigation of an illegal/black market marijuana growing operation. 

There was no licensing for any type of cannabis growing, handling, or processing at this location. Jackson County Code Enforcement responded to the scene to conduct an independent investigation. 

Code Enforcement issued citations totaling $180,000 for 87 non-permitted greenhouse structures, failing to obtain marijuana production approval, non-permitted electrical, solid waste, and camping within a marijuana production area.

Oregon Water Resources Department District 13 Watermasters discovered multiple water violations on the property including two illegal wells, and an illegal pond. 

Watermasters estimated that the black-market marijuana grow illegally consumed roughly 25,000 gallons of water per day, for a total of 1,009,620 gallons over the last 40 days. 

This amount of water would fill 50 average sized swimming pools. 

This conservative estimation is based upon each of the 16,827 plants using roughly 1 1/2 gallons per day with the average age of the plants being approximately 40 days. 

Watermasters issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to the responsible parties for the appropriation of ground water for irrigation and storage at an illegal commercial operation. Water violations of this kind are subject to both civil and criminal penalties.

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, Watermasters, and the DA’s Office. 

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