Illegal marijuana operations shut down in Lane County with thousands of plants, money, guns seized

A large-scale criminal marijuana manufacturing operation in Lane County.
A large-scale criminal marijuana manufacturing operation in Lane County.

Lane County law enforcement officials have shut down two large-scale criminal marijuana manufacturing operations and arrested at least 10 people, according to the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.

February bust leads to 16,000 marijuana plants seized

On Feb. 15, law enforcement agencies carried out search warrants at seven locations throughout Lane County after a yearlong investigation into a large criminal marijuana manufacturing and processing ring, the sheriff’s office said.

During the search, officers seized more than 16,000 marijuana plants growing in nine buildings on a property off of Crow Road outside Eugene.

About $280,000, firearms and hundreds of thousands of dollars in vehicles and grow equipment were found to be directly involved in the operation, officials said.

Investigators learned marijuana from the operation was being sold out of state to Texas, Minnesota, Arkansas and France.

Facility feet from Amazon canal had highly flammable materials

An illegal professional-scale marijuana refinement facility was also shut down on West 12th Avenue in west Eugene as a part of the operation, officials said. The refinement facility, which is feet from the Amazon canal, contained large volumes of unregulated highly flammable materials, officials said. Cleanup of the materials is ongoing.

Seven people were arrested for their involvement and more arrests are expected, officials said. One of those arrested was already on probation in Texas for shipping marijuana through the U.S. Postal Service, officials said.

On March 15, law enforcement agencies seized over 12,000 marijuana plants and 3,600 pounds of processed marijuana after carrying out search warrants for a grow location south of Eugene and a home in Happy Valley, according to the sheriff's office.

Deputies had learned about the grow after several complaints from neighbors, officials said. The property had two 60-by-300-foot buildings for marijuana production, officials said.

The people responsible for the operation lived in three houses in Lane County and one house in Happy Valley, officials said. Law enforcement officers found firearms, marijuana and over $400,000 after searching the homes.

Several of the suspects were involved in a 2017 organized crime ring in King County, Washington, which was described as a transcontinental drug trafficking organization, officials said. Over $9 million was wired to China under different LLC names, investigators found.

Workers at the grow operation had allegedly been promised between $3,000 to $5,000 a month, officials said. One of the workers said they were made to work 13 hours a day seven days a week to increase production, officials said. The worker said he wanted to leave but wouldn’t get paid for his work if he did, officials said.

Investigators also learned the grow location off of Dillard Road was the target of two armed robberies in the last two years that were not reported to police. In one of the alleged robberies, the suspects pointed guns at the workers and told them they were police officers, officials said.

So far, three people have been arrested for their involvement in the operation. The investigation is ongoing.

Individually, both grow operations consumed about $500,000 per year in electricity, officials said. State and county agencies are dealing with multiple violations of water use and building safety codes.

Makenzie Elliott covers breaking news and public safety for The Register-Guard. Reach her at Find her on Twitter at @makenzielliott.

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Illegal large-scale weed operations shut down in Lane County