Oregon’s Illicit Cannabis Market is Booming
When Oregonians voted to legalize cannabis in 2014, there were high hopes for a thriving legal industry in the Beaver State—and an end to big police raids on growers. Over the past three years, however, a market glut has driven prices down in the legal sector. At the same time, law enforcement has repeatedly carried out raids on impressively large illicit operations—especially in the south of the state. What explains this illicit cannabis market paradox? Huge Illicit Operations An overview of some recent raids in Southern Oregon—especially the adjacent counties of Josephine, Jackson and Klamath—quickly makes clear the scope of the situation. On July 6, the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) served search warrants at two properties in Wolf Creek, uncovering some 14,000 cannabis plants in multiple greenhouses and indoor grow facilities. The JMET said detectives also found about 7,000 pounds of processed marijuana. Two people, identified as Chen Fengzhi and Liang Shao, were arrested. Cannabis found by Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) at Wolf Creek, Oregon. PHOTO Josephine County Sheriff’s Office On June 23, the JMET joined with the Oregon State Police Drug Enforcement Section to execute a search warrant in Cave Junction, confiscating 3,944 plants in seven “industrial-sized” greenhouses.On June 22, the JMET raided a property in Grants Pass, seizing 700 plants and 2,500 pounds of processed marijuana, as well as a pound-and-a-half of methamphetamine and multiple firearms. A man identified as Tung Ming Chen was arrested. On June 8, the JMET and Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (RADE) team searched properties outside Selma, finding some 22,000 plants in 34 greenhouses. One man, Juan Valdovinos Tafolla, was arrested, and several others “temporarily detained for officer safety,” the Sheriff’s Office said. In addition to marijuana offenses, Valdovinos Tafolla was slapped with charges of “appropriation of water,” for allegedly using a pump to divert water from a nearby creek. …
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