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JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — This week, investigators from a group of Jackson County agencies and the state of Oregon served a series of search warrants targeting two suspected black market marijuana grow operations — one near Gold Hill and another near Eagle Point.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office said that the raids ultimately uncovered about 15,000 pounds of processed marijuana, more than 20,000 uncultivated plants, five guns, and almost $650,000 in cash.
Investigators from the Jackson County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) conducted the first raid just after 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning at a property in the 10000-block of Old Stage Road near Gold Hill. Here, the Sheriff's Office said, detectives found bags of cash totaling $643,524, five firearms, and forged identification. In a storage room, detectives found 10,000 pounds of processed marijuana that had been weighed, separated, and packaged for distribution.
JCSO said that the operation had no permits to grow or process marijuana for any commercial purpose.
At the site, investigators detained 58 workers, arresting just one man. JCSO identified the suspect as 33-year-old Hernan Sanchez Villalobos, a citizen of Mexico and the owner of the property. He was jailed on charges for alleged marijuana trafficking, possession of forged identification, and money laundering.
Just before 8 a.m. on Wednesday, IMET served another search warrant at a suspected black market grow in the 1000-block of Meridian Road near Eagle Point. Detectives reported discovering 20,199 plants spread throughout 102 greenhouses, as well as 5,000 pounds of processed marijuana.
Investigators detained 53 workers, interviewing them before releasing them. While the property did have a license from the Oregon Department of Agriculture to grow hemp, JCSO said that it was "not permitted to grow or process marijuana for recreational or medical purposes."
"While regulatory agencies investigate permitted cannabis operations, IMET is focusing on the black-market marijuana trade in the Rogue Valley. Oregon State Police (OSP), Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE) detectives, and JCSO deputies assisted with both operations," the Sheriff's Office said.