Thousands of pot plants netted in season's first raid

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department started a new season of marijuana-eradication efforts by removing 32,176 marijuana plants from six gardens west of Applegate Lake.

The season's first raid got under way early Friday when a multi-agency team of about 100 officers targeted two known growing operations, Sheriff Mike Winters said. Helicopter surveillance of the area spotted four additional gardens.

Aerial searches continued Saturday and will be ongoing throughout the county, as will plant removal, he said.

Nearly 10 tons of pot plants between 3 and 5 feet tall were pulled, bundled, lifted by helicopter, then loaded into a truck and trailer for a police-escorted trip to a landfill for destruction, he said. Removal took all day Friday.

Authorities estimate a mature plant can produce up to a pound of marijuana, which sells for $3,500 a pound wholesale and $5,000 a pound for retail buyers on the street.

Winters said four men were arrested by federal authorities. However, because the charges were federal, no local record of the arrests was available over the weekend.

Officers from Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department, Medford police, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement assisted with the operation.

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