Nearly 1,900 pot plants seized; complex money-laundering scheme uncovered
PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) – Central Oregon drug agents raided a Prineville couple’s home, indoor growing facility and retail nursery supply store “Herbology” Wednesday, arresting the pair on charges of growing and selling black-market marijuana products outside of the state and from their store, not licensed to sell cannabis.
Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team detectives, assisted by the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT), executed the coordinated search warrants around 11 a.m. Wednesday at the home, growing facility and store, Sergeant Kent Vander Kamp said Thursday.
They concluded a long-term investigation by seizing nearly 1,900 marijuana plants, 168 pounds of processed marijuana, more than $20,000 in cash, three rifles and two pistols, he said. They also uncovered a complex money-laundering scheme involving real estate and structured banking transactions.
The Prineville couple, in their 40s, were detained by the CERT team and later arrested by detectives at the scene. They were lodged at the Crook County Jail on charges of unlawful manufacturing, delivery and possession of marijuana, while the husband also was charged with felon in possession of a firearm. Vander Kamp said more charges are expected as the investigation continues.
The Crook County Sheriff's Office, Prineville Police Department and Oregon State Police assisted with the investigation, eradication and dismantling of the site, the CODE team spokesman said..
"The possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal for recreational use in Oregon," Vander Kamp wrote. "However, large, unlicensed marijuana operations remain illegal. Due to these unregulated operations, they pose dangers to the public and the environment."
The couple's commercial grow operation was located in a residential area of Juniper Canyon, an unincorporated area of Crook County. Most of the residents in this area are dependent on the ground or well water for their households, he said. In March, Governor Brown declared Crook County to be in extreme drought conditions and struggling with consistent groundwater sources.
Vander Kamp continued, "Investigators have found illegal marijuana grows diverted or stolen significant water from nearby homes, commercial farms, or directly from pumps connected to underground sources in the arid Central Oregon High Desert.
"This particular grow site used underground well water and maintained a complex watering system that supplied marijuana production. Additionally, Illegal marijuana farms often use pesticides and insecticides that threaten residential water supplies and endanger the end user," the sergeant said.