Sheriff: Illegal grow operation with an estimated $50 million in marijuana shut down

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YONCALLA, Ore. — A large-scale criminal marijuana grow operating under the guise of a legal hemp operation has been shut down by law enforcement in Douglas County, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

According to a release from the DCSO, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team (DINT) executed a search warrant in the 1000-block of Scotts Valley Road Wednesday, September 1, 2021. The warrant stemmed from an investigation into a large-scale black-market marijuana grow operation.

Law enforcement became aware of the operation on tips from concerned citizens.

When law enforcement arrived approximately 30-50 workers began fleeing the location on foot. An individual identified as “the manager” of the operation, 44-year-old Jose Francisco Figueroa-Aguilar of Modesto, California, was ultimately arrested and lodged at the Douglas County Jail on charges of Unlawful Possession and Unlawful Manufacture of Marijuana.

Deputies located multiple vehicles, tents, and two RVs concealed under greenhouses and in the timber. The property was also found to be littered with garbage, fertilizer, containers, and human waste; all of which were adjacent to Elk Creek.

Two large swimming pools were being utilized as water holding tanks being fed by water pumps from Elk Creek. The water pumps are required to be metered but were not.

Approximately 150 greenhouses containing 49,152 marijuana plants were located on the property. Testing conducted on the marijuana throughout the grow revealed high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There were no hemp plants located anywhere on the property. The street value of the marijuana located is estimated to be $50,000,000.

Harvesting of the marijuana plants had begun, however, it did not appear that any of it had been released into the community before the execution of the search warrant.

Due to the sheer size of the illegal operation, law enforcement spent two days conducting eradication and destruction of the marijuana plants. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be pending.

Douglas County, as well as multiple other Oregon counties, is seeing a large number of black-market marijuana grows which have been disguised as sanctioned hemp grows to pop up in local communities.

These operations are being financed and ran by organized crime enterprises. If you have concerns about a possible illegal marijuana operation in your community, contact the Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team at (541) 440-4474.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by DINT, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the Douglas County Water Master, and the Douglas County Public Works Department.

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