BONANZA, Ore. — Investigators in Klamath County raided a large marijuana grow operation near Bonanza on Tuesday, reportedly finding and destroying more than 50,000 plants.
According to Klamath Falls Police, the Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) obtained a search warrant for the "enormous" operation along Philpott Lane in Bonanza. Officers from multiple agencies swarmed the property, which was purported to be growing hemp.
The site was not licensed or permitted to grow either hemp or marijuana, and KFPD said that on-site testing confirmed that the plants were actually high-THC marijuana. Investigators were also looking into potential unlawful use of groundwater to maintain the grow.
Grow sites on the property covered more than 300 acres, consisting of 132 large greenhouses full of mature marijuana plants. KFPD said that the operation had a newly completed and uninspected well, which the agency surmised was used to pump thousands of gallons of water each day in order to water the plants.
After collecting evidence at the site, investigators brought in Klamath County Solid Waste Management to bulldoze the roughly 51,480 plants and greenhouses. Investigators also seized a large amount of cash "as suspected drug proceeds."
Criminal charges for several people were referred to the Klamath County District Attorney's Office for review.
"Klamath County has an increasing problem with large scale illegal marijuana grows," KFPD said. "The illegal marijuana grow-related increase in water theft and illegal use of groundwater during these extreme drought years continues to be a community concern."
The problem is far from limited to Klamath County. Law enforcement officials in Josephine, Jackson, and Siskiyou counties have increasingly tried to crack down on unlicensed marijuana grows. While the frequency of raids has increased this year, officials continue to say that they do not have the personnel to deal with the full extent of the problem.