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Sirens & Gavels

Mile-long pot operation busted in Oregon

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By WILLIAM MCCALL, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A tip from hunters led police to a marijuana growing operation stretching across about a mile of a remote ravine on public land, leading to a raid that netted six arrests and more than 91,000 marijuana plants.

Miles of plastic irrigation tubing lined the terraced ravine in the northeast corner of Oregon. Authorities found weapons, food and supplies at campsites that could support growers for weeks, the Oregon State Police said.

A multi-agency law enforcement team raided the camp with air support from the Oregon Army National Guard on U.S. Forest Service land in a remote section of northern Wallowa County. The exact location won't be released while the investigation is under way, Lt. Gregg Hastings, a state police spokesman, said Friday.

The marijuana plants were concealed in several separate pods developed by removing trees and underbrush to camouflage the site.

Trash including tubing, plastic planter containers, herbicides and toxic chemicals were dumped along a river's edge, said Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen. State wildlife workers will survey the site to determine the extent of environmental damage, the resources needed to clean up the site and how to rehabilitate the altered terrain.

“Many people would be outraged at the damage to our public lands caused by illegal marijuana growers,” said La Grande police Sgt. John Shaul, supervisor for the Union/Wallowa County Drug Team.

Steen warned the public Friday to be careful this summer during outdoor recreation in the area. People arrested in the past at many marijuana growing sites have been armed to protect themselves from police and others, he said.

Police said six men were arrested in the raid: Arturo B. Barrera, 26; Federico R. Carrasco, 24; Christian R. Gonzalez, 28; Fredy F. Montes, 32; Jesus A. Sanchez, 21; and Audel C. Soto, 29.

They were being held at the Union County Jail, charged with unlawful manufacture and possession of marijuana. A jail deputy said Friday he could not release any other details or say whether the men had attorneys.


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