Three properties facing $1.249 mil. in fines after illegal marijuana bust

ROGUE RIVER, Ore. – A major marijuana bust was made in rural Rogue River last week.

The investigation led to the property owners now facing more than $1.2 million in fines.

“There’s no cell phone connection and you’re pretty far out there,” Jackson County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Aaron Lewis said.

JCSO said three neighboring properties located on the 18000 block of east Evans Creek Road in rural Rogue River contained 113 cannabis greenhouses.

Over 7,000 pounds of illegal marijuana and $46,000 in cash were discovered on the properties.

JCSO said its been investigating the properties for months.

“This one took a lot of different personnel,” Lewis said. “Due to the size and the fact that this was three separate properties we assisted the help of Oregon State Police and Homeland Security investigations.”

According to JCSO, detectives have identified the primary suspects and investigations are on going, but no one has been arrested yet.

17 workers and one child were identified as potential victims of forced labor trafficking.

JCSO said the three properties are owned by different individuals but in total they are facing fines up to $1.249 million.

“So code enforcement was able to access over $700,000 in fines to the property owners and one of the properties code enforcement visited last year and assessed fines and they were not corrected,” Lewis said.

Code enforcement previously fined one of the properties just under $550,000.

This comes after new legislation was introduced this year, increasing penalties on property owners due to the alarming rise in illegal grow sites in Oregon.

In an interview back in May, Jackson county code enforcement told NBC5 the county had to step in.

“Enforcement does have enhanced penalties for cannabis related violations now, that was a result of the board of commissioners changing our polices last year,” Jackson County Code Enforcement spokesperson Alicia Brown said.

JCSO said more funding this year has allowed them crack down on more illegal grows… Compared to 20-21.

NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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