By Scottie Barnes
A two-day raid of five industrial warehouses in White City, Oregon, seized 250 tons of illegal marijuana with an estimated street value of more than $500 million.
The Oregon State Police (OSP) said the Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 searches resulted in one of the state’s largest marijuana seizures to date.
The OSP said law enforcement was confronting international criminal cartels that are using narco slaves to grow marijuana on a massive scale in southern Oregon.
White City is a small community in Jackson County, near the California state line.
On Nov. 16, Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler told lawmakers the crime rate—associated with the thousands of illegal marijuana farms that have sprung up this year in southern Oregon—had gone through the roof.
“We’ve had stabbings, robberies, thefts, burglaries, homicides, sex crimes, motor vehicle accidents, DUIs, all related to the influx of the marijuana-cannabis industry in our valley,” Sickler said in his testimony to the Oregon State Legislature.
“It is certainly an issue we deal with on a daily basis here.”
Sheriff Dave Daniel, of neighboring Josephine County, echoed Stickler’s concern and added that a lot more needed to be done.
“In the grand scheme, [this seizure] is a drop in the bucket,” Daniel told The Epoch Times. “That is why agencies partner.”
He said it was necessary due to the “sheer magnitude” of the problem.
The White City grow site, 15 miles north of Medford, consisted of five massive warehouses zoned for commercial use.
Marijuana was found in all phases of production, from growing, to processing, and packaging for shipment.
According to Daniel, cartels from China, Russia, Mexico, and other nations, are illegally growing marijuana in southern Oregon and shipping it to customers all over the world by truck and aircraft.
More than 100 individuals were initially detained during the operation. They were identified, interviewed, and released.
Several were migrant workers staying on-site in squalid living conditions with no running water.
In one previous raid, law enforcement found nearly 300 migrant workers locked in a barn with no running water, or other facilities, Daniel said.
“These people are narco-slaves. They are afraid that the cartels will kill them, or their families back home, so they don’t talk.”
The drug bust comes less than two weeks after Oregon Congressman Cliff Bentz, a Republican, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for federal help in four counties in the region.
Though Garland had yet to respond to that letter, the operation was a result of collaboration between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. They were Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Medford Office, the Basin Interagency Narcotics Team of Klamath County, the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team of the Medford Police Department-Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson County Fire District No. 3.
“This is a very involved investigation and will be going on for several more weeks,” Oregon police said.