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Feds seek to keep $774,000 linked to Gold Hill pot raid

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Jackson County Sheriff’s Office photo Police allegedly found $289,650 cash in this bag during an Aug. 31 raid in Gold Hill. Federal prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of more than $643,000 allegedly linked to the operation.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office photo One of numerous sheds and greenhouses that the Jackson County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement task force found on Aug. 31 in the 10000 block of Old Stage Road in Gold Hill. Federal prosecutors seek forfeiture of more than $643,000 allegedly linked to the pot operation.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office photo The Jackson County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team allegedly found more than 9,000 pounds of illicit marijuana during a raid Aug. 31 in Gold Hill.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a suit last week in U.S. District Court in Medford seeking forfeiture of $643,526 cash it says stemmed from an illegal marijuana operation in Gold Hill that involved at least 52 workers and more than 9,000 pounds of marijuana.

They also want $131,287 from a spouse’s checking account balance that they say is linked to an Aug. 31 search of the illicit pot operation located at 10895 Old Stage Road.

The Jackson County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team allegedly found five- and six-figure bundles of cash scattered throughout the home.

Police said they found $132,400 next to a living room fireplace, $90,001 hidden inside a TV box, $42,655 inside a child’s bedroom, $23,575 inside a dining room closet, $19,480 hidden inside a couch and $1,955 inside a bathroom, according to an affidavit filed in the case Friday.

There was more than $325,000 in the master bedroom alone: $289,650 in a blue and white bag, $16,562 between two nightstands, $16,200 in the hamper, $2,000 in a dresser, $1,400 in a purse and $3,650 elsewhere in the bedroom.

There was $4,998 on the property owner, identified by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office as Hernan Sanchez-Villalobos.

Sanchez-Villalobos, listed in Jackson County Circuit Court records with a last name of Villalobos, was charged by a grand jury early last month with felony charges of money laundering and unlawfully manufacturing, delivering and possessing marijuana along with a misdemeanor charge of second-degree possessing a forged instrument, according to filings from the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

Deputy District Attorney Patrick Green filed notice earlier this week that he intends to seek steeper penalties in Sanchez-Villalobos’ case because the “scale of the illegal marijuana operation involved in this offense was significantly greater than typical for such an offense.” (Corrected)

The IMET investigation allegedly began Aug. 5 with a tip about numerous hoop-style greenhouses at another property on Hanley Road in Medford.

A break in the investigation happened after detectives followed a truck and utility trailer to the Gold Hill property, which was not licensed or permitted to grow recreational or medical marijuana.

Police questioned 52 people at several barns on the property, according to the affidavit and an earlier news report.

Sanchez-Villalobos allegedly admitted to investigators about paying his laborers per pound of marijuana trimmed, and selling strains with names such as “Ice Cream Cake,” “Gelato” and “OG” on the black market for $400 to $600 per pound.

Feds also seek forfeiture of more than $132,000 from a checking account in the name of Sanchez-Villalobos’ wife.

His wife allegedly told investigators that she owned a cleaning business, but could only provide a business name of “Family Cleaning.” Feds allege that she couldn’t provide the names of any clients, nor could she explain a recent $5,500 deposit.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.

Correction, Dec. 16: The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office indicted Sanchez-Villalobos Nov. 5 on criminal charges of unlawfully manufacturing, delivering and possessing marijuana, money laundering and possessing a forged instrument. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Sanchez-Villalobos had not been charged with a crime.