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$50 million in illegal marijuana found at grow operation in Douglas County

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A large-scale marijuana growing operation in Yoncalla north of Roseburg suspected to have been cultivating black-market hemp has been shut down by law enforcement in Douglas County.

The street value of the marijuana located there is estimated to be about $50 million. Harvesting of the marijuana plants had begun, though it did not appear that any of the contraband had been released into the community before shutting down the operation, authorities said.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team, DINT, served a search warrant in the 1000 block of Scotts Valley Road on Wednesday based on an investigation into the extensive operation. Law enforcement became aware of the operation on tips from concerned citizens.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team, DINT, served a search warrant in the 1000 block of Scotts Valley Road in Yoncalla on Wednesday at what was purported to be a hemp-growing operation. It was actually an illegal marijuana growing operation, according to authorities.

There were no hemp plants found anywhere on the property. Approximately 150 greenhouses containing 49,152 marijuana plants were located, however. Testing conducted on the marijuana throughout the grow revealed high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Douglas County, as well as multiple other Oregon counties, are seeing a large number black-market marijuana grows that have been disguised as sanctioned hemp grows popping up in local communities. These operations are being financed and run by organized crime enterprises, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

When law enforcement arrived approximately, 30 to 50 workers began fleeing the location on foot.

Deputies described locating multiple vehicles, tents and two recreational vehicles concealed under greenhouses and in the timber. The property also was 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 used as water tanks being fed by water pumps from Elk Creek, authorities said. The water pumps are required to be metered, but were not.

Law enforcement spent two days eradicating the marijuana plants at the location because of the scale of the operation. The investigation is ongoing.

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