Medford marijuana bust highlights black market issue

Medford, Ore. — A big pot bust in Medford is highlighting a growing problem in our area.

Police say they are seeing an increasing number of black market and potentially cartel-related crimes.

While a recent case is showing cartel-like behavior, Lieutenant Mike Budreau with the Medford Police Department says it’s not the norm.

However, black market deals are still happening often.

“This was all over a marijuana deal gone awry,” Lieutenant Mike Budreau said.

Police say three men are facing kidnapping and menacing charges after trying to force collection on a $200,000 dollar marijuana debt.

The case was reported to Medford Police by a family member of the victim last Saturday.

“[They] pulled a gun on him, held him in a residence for a long period of time, made threats and coerced him into handing over his truck and the title of his truck and payment for this marijuana debt,” Lieutenant Budreau said.

Lieutenant Budreau with the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement or MADGE says the case led them to an illegal cannabis grow on Pine Croft Avenue.

A grow of 16 plants that weighed more than 900 pounds.

“That grow was not legal in any way,” Lieutenant Budreau said.

Lieutenant Budreau says the men involved came from Central California.

He says they show cartel-like behavior, but he doesn’t think cartels are setting up shop in the Rogue Valley.

Rather it’s the black market that is their biggest problem.

“What we see is a lot of local growers that have legal grows that illegally sell marijuana out of state,” Lieutenant Budreau said.

According to Lieutenant Budreau the Southern Oregon market is saturated since cannabis is legal.

But growers can make four times more money shipping to states where it’s illegal.

“We have a lot of states where it’s not legal. Southern Oregon marijuana is highly sought after because of the quality so there’s money to be made,” Lieutenant Budreau said.

Lieutenant Budreau says the legalization of marijuana has created a dramatic influx of people setting up legal grows here and making money on the black market.

He believes as other states start to legalize marijuana, there will be less of a demand.

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