The Oregon State Police announced in a news release Saturday that its Southwest Region Drug Enforcement team served a search warrant at a site that included five warehouses on Thursday. They found more than 100 people there — including several migrant workers living in poor conditions without running water — as well as what the police called an “epic amount of illegal, processed marijuana.”
The drug enforcement team estimated that during the two-day search approximately 500,000 pounds of cannabis was found, as well as a firearm. The Oregon State Police said the marijuana had an estimated street value of around $500 million.
White City is a small community in Jackson County near the California state line. Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler earlier this week told lawmakers the crime rate associated with the thousands of illegal marijuana farms that have sprung up this year in southern Oregon has 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 in our valley,” Sickler said. “It is certainly an issue we deal with on a daily basis here.”
He testified Tuesday before a committee of the Oregon Legislature, in an effort to seek help in stemming the proliferation of illegal grow sites in the region.
The managers of the sites — which were brazenly erected last spring primarily in Jackson and Josephine counties in the largely rural region region — have stolen water from rivers, creeks and aquifers during a severe drought and abused immigrant workers, officials have said. In October, on the same day that a southern Oregon county declared a state of emergency amid a sharp increase in illegal cannabis farms, police raided a site that had about 2 tons of processed marijuana and 17,500 pot plants.
The Oregon State Police said the investigation at the White City warehouses will take several weeks.