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Suspect in $428k pot theft nabbed after high-speed chase

A Central Point man accused of being part of a ring that stole nearly all of a licensed marijuana farm’s first-year harvest was captured Tuesday night near Grants Pass following a chase that police say involved , speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, an Oregon State Police boat and thousands of dollars in damage to a fence.

Mitchell Jeffrey King, 28, faces new felony drug charges and a count of attempt to elude police in a vehicle following a Tuesday evening chase that started in Central Point and ended along Highway 99 near Grants Pass along the Rogue River, according to documents filed by Central Point police in Jackson County Circuit Court.

At about 9:34 p.m. Tuesday, King allegedly attempted to flee Central Point police on Scenic Avenue and crashed into a backyard fence in the 300 block of Applewood Drive, which caused an estimated $5,000 in damage, according to police.

From there, police say, King took the Exit 35 ramp onto northbound Interstate 5, driving “recklessly at speeds over 100 mph at times,” Central Point police say, adding that King swerved between lanes several times and cut off other motorists.

King took Rogue River Exit 48 and headed toward Grants Pass on Highway 99.

After the vehicle King was driving became disabled near the Grants Pass Parkway Bridge, King jumped over the railing and into the river.

“I attempted to talk him back over the ledge for a couple minutes, but Mr. King then jumped from the bridge into the river approximately 60 feet below,” the document filed by police says.

The officer watched him swim about 150 feet downstream to the east shore and hide behind bushes. Officers on an Oregon State Police boat ultimately captured King, according to court documents.

Inside the vehicle King ditched, Central Point police say they found a rock of methamphetamine that was “much larger than what is consistent with personal use,” along with a small amount of heroin.

Jackson County Circuit Court records show King has pending felony charges of second-degree burglary and aggravated first-degree theft, alleging his involvement with four others in the theft of more than 250 pounds of cannabis taken from Dicot Farm, located in the 8400 block of Butte Falls Highway.

During co-suspect Philip Adrian Semper’s sentencing hearing in June, Dicot Farm’s owner described the theft as more than 90 percent of his first-year harvest, an uninsured loss that was never recovered, valued at $428,799.97.

Tanner Ray Sowell was sentenced to prison in February for the Dicot Farms burglary, along with a string of burglaries from fall 2016 through May 2017 that included a stolen jetboat and backhoe, according to earlier news reports.

Court records show co-suspects Hank Sterling Sowell and Jesse Oliver Parker, both of Eagle Point, have trials set for Sept. 25, on felony counts of second-degree burglary and aggravated first-degree theft in the Dicot Farms burglary.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Mitchell Jeffrey King