The Lane County Sheriff’s Office seized close to 9,000 marijuana plants from a suspected illegal large-scale cultivating operation west of Junction City on Wednesday. Deputies and officials from several law enforcement agencies helped execute the search warrant in the 26000 block of High Pass Road just after 7 a.m.
The LCSO said they received a tip about a massive illegal marijuana growing operation in the 26000 block of High Pass Road west of Junction City. They said they were granted a search warrant and carried it out in the morning of August 24. Deputies said they were assisted by officers from several local law enforcement agencies in carrying out the search warrant, including elements from the Springfield and Eugene Police Departments.
Deputies and officials from several law enforcement agencies helped conduct the search warrant in the 26000 block of High Pass Road just after 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to a news release from Sgt. Thomas Speldrich. The officers found around 32 greenhouses being exploited to cultivate marijuana plants at different stages of maturity, the release declared.
Several migrant workers believed to be trafficking victims were found on-site and were living in “deplorable and unsanitary conditions” in the nearby forests, Speldrich said. The workers were detained, interviewed and released after being provided with information regarding local support services available, Speldrich said.
A 27-year-old man was located nearby who Speldrich said is believed to have been in charge of the operation. He was charged with illegal marijuana manufacturing, and had a warrant for an unrelated offense in another county. Officers found evidence that the suspected illegal operation was funded and overseen by an organized crime group based in Mexico, Speldrich said.
Also, he added that, the Authorities are still investigating the environmental impact of the operation. Lane County code compliance officials noted the greenhouses, along with electrical and irrigation systems, were not permitted and contained “numerous” code violations, Speldrich said. The Oregon State Water Master’s office also responded to the scene and found unlawful water use at the site, which will also be followed up on.