Illegal Pot Farm Linked to International Network | Local News | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Illegal Pot Farm Linked to International Network

Police say a two-year criminal investigation revealed a complex criminal network

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Police seized more than eight tons of processed marijuana, 17,000 plants, four guns, and a large cache of money in a raid on six unlicensed marijuana farms around Madras and Culver that law enforcement claims are connected to a Chinese criminal network.

Police assemble outside a property allegedly used for illegal marijuana cultivation. - COURTESY OF CENTRAL OREGON DRUG ENFORCEMENT
  • Courtesy of Central Oregon Drug Enforcement
  • Police assemble outside a property allegedly used for illegal marijuana cultivation.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, with the assistance of the Central Oregon Drug Team and the Deschutes County Illicit Marijuana Enforcement Team, says it conducted surveillance on 23 people across 20 properties. Profits from the marijuana businesses were allegedly laundered through Chinese restaurants around the Pacific Northwest, which diverted the money back to China disguised as business transactions.

Most of the 14 Chinese laborers the detectives interviewed were trafficked into the United States, and later the cartel recruited restaurant laborers to work at the farms. The workers lived on the farm and were reportedly moved from grow site to grow site.

Police arrested five leaders and charged them with unlawful manufacture, delivery and possession of marijuana. Robert Dale, who allegedly owns many of the properties targeted in the raid, was also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.

Large illegal marijuana farms are a growing issue for rural Central Oregon. In September 2021, police raided a 30-acre farm in Alfalfa staffed with debt-slaves allegedly linked to a Jalisco-based criminal organization. Southern Oregon is part of the emerald triangle, a region renowned for marijuana cultivation. But, as the state gets more aggressive combating illegal farms in southern Oregon, large farms are appearing in other parts of the state.

"They've applied so much pressure down there, people are now starting to move out," Dustin Miller, a detective for the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, told the Source in January. "That doesn't necessarily move to Deschutes County, although Deschutes County has good farmland out east. But we're also seeing them go out towards Lakeview and out towards eastern Oregon."

About The Author

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...

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