BEATTY, Ore. — Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies raided a pair of large illegal marijuana grows near the Klamath County town of Beatty on Monday, according to the Klamath Falls Police Department. Both operations, according to KFPD, operated under the guise of being legal hemp farms.
The two search warrants were served simultaneously by members of the Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET), Klamath County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and the Klamath Falls Police Department.
Though both farms were purported to be growing hemp, KFPD said that neither was licensed to grow that crop, and on-site testing of the plants during the raids "revealed the plants were high THC marijuana." Investigators are also looking into unlawful use of groundwater at the two grows.
Police used bulldozers to destroy more than 22,000 plants along with the greenhouses and other infrastructure.
"Site cleanup was left as the responsibility of the landowners who leased their property to be used in illegal marijuana production," KFPD said. Criminal charges have been referred to the Klamath County District Attorney's Office for review, though the agency did not indicate how many people or what charges are being pursued.
Police referenced the passage of House Bill 3000, which went into effect in July. The bill tweaked Oregon law to allow police greater flexibility in investigating and destroying illegal grows, with KFPD saying that the same response would have taken many officers days to undertake.
"Klamath County has a growing problem with large scale illegal marijuana grows," KFPD continued. "Local law enforcement agencies are working to focus enforcement on this growing problem in our county. Landowners should be aware that they could be held liable for the theft and unlawful use of groundwater, as well as the illegal marijuana production which occur on their leased properties. In addition property used for illegal marijuana production could be seized and forfeited."
KFPD asked anyone with information about the illegal manufacture or distribution of drugs in Klamath County to call the Klamath Falls Police Department Anonymous Tip Line at (541) 883-5334 or the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at (541) 850-5380.