SWAT, Drug agents and CERT teams raid 5 illegal Marijuana grow and processing sites
BEND - Detectives with the Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement team and the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team wrapped up a several-month investigation.
On Tuesday five Bend and La Pine raids involving a group based in a La Pine-area home who allegedly grew and processed illegal marijuana and delivered it to the Midwest and East Coast.
Sheriff's Sgt. Kent Vander Kamp said the case began with community complaints and tips about a Bend man operating an illicit marijuana grow in a residential area on Berg Lane in northern Bend.
The Illicit Marijuana Enforcement Team requested assistance from the CODE Team to further their investigation. As a result, CODE and DCIME detectives, drug agents and intelligence analysts conducted surveillance of the suspect.
During the surveillance operations, detectives identified a large criminal organization with an additional property in northwest Bend and three growing and processing properties in La Pine.
Around 7 a.m. Tuesday, CODE and DCIME detectives, with the assistance of the Deschutes County Sheriff's SWAT Team and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), executed simultaneous search warrants in the following locations:
· 800 block of NW Newport Avenue, Bend
· 63000 block of Berg Lane, Bend
· 16000 block of Dyke Road, La Pine
· 52000 block of Polar Drive, La Pine
· 52200 block of Polar Drive, La Pine
During the raids, a total of 665 pounds of processed marijuana flower and 630 marijuana plants in various stages of growth were seized as evidence from the five locations. In addition to marijuana, detectives also seized a large amount of US currency and evidence of interstate trafficking and financial crimes.
Regarding claims on social media that dozens of gunshots had been fired in a La Pine "shootout," sheriff's Sgt. Jason Wall told NewsChannel 21 that "there is no validity to any of these claims."
Wall confirmed that law enforcement executing the La Pine search warrants used "light/sound diversionary devices," often referred to as "flash-bang" devices.
But he also said there was a roofer working in the area using a nail gun around the same time, and "one could draw a parallel between law enforcement presence and the sound of a nail gun being used as gunfire."
During the raids, several people were detained and interviewed at the scenes. Vander Kamp said no arrests have been made at this time, but "several arrests are pending grand jury indictments." Their names are being withheld until additional follow-up investigations are complete and indictments have been issued.
Detectives are trying to locate two brothers who are "people of interest in this case," Vander Kamp said: Daniel Liautaud, 36, of Bend, and Jackson Liautaud, 31, of La Pine.
Anyone with information about the Liautauds' whereabouts is asked to call detectives Dustin Miller or Tony Ramos at 541-693-9111 and reference case No. 23-25857. "Do not attempt to arrest or detain them if seen," the sergeant said.
Possessing small amounts of marijuana is legal for recreational use in Oregon. However, Vander Kamp said large unlicensed marijuana operations remain illegal, as "these unregulated operations pose dangers to the public and the environment."
For example, he said, during the search warrant on Berg Lane, detectives found the septic system was malfunctioning and overwhelmed with waste. Raw sewage was flooding the property and nearby soil for a lengthy time.
A failing septic system can contaminate well water and nearby waterbodies. Untreated wastewater is a health hazard and can cause many human diseases. Once this untreated wastewater enters the groundwater, neighborhood wells and groundwater can be contaminated. Contaminated water used to cultivate illicit marijuana and later sold to the unwitting public is unsafe for consumption.
A Deschutes County Building code compliance officer assisted after detectives observed numerous additional building code violations, in addition to the failing septic system. Some properties had dangerous electrical wiring, unpermitted electrical panels, exposed electrical wires and unpermitted interior walls.
The Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement (DCIME) program is a partnership between the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, the Bend Police Department, and the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office to address illegal marijuana activity in Deschutes County.
CODE and DCIME were assisted by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Deschutes County Sheriff's Street Crime Unit, Redmond Street Crimes Unit, Bend Police Department and the Oregon State Police with the investigation, eradication, and dismantling of these sites.