Busy summer for pot patch busts


Douglas County drug agents say the marijuana field they raided on Thursday was more than twice as big as they thought and yielded some 10,000 plants weighing 8,000 pounds and worth about $16 million.

Initially they thought they had 4,000 plants.

It was another find in a busy summer in Oregon for narcotics agents ferreting out marijuana patches.

The Yamhill County Interagency Narcotics Team hauled off 1,248 mature plants six miles northwest of Yamhill on Friday. The team found nearly 3,500 other plants in two other raids in August and early September on private and federal lands.

The Douglas County plants were in 10 areas covering about a square mile and had their own irrigation system and deer nets. Agents found a loaded gun and booby traps.

In June, a team led by the Tillamook Interagency Narcotics Team took 17,160 plants from 10 acres of private forest 20 miles east of Beaver, although global positioning later determined the plants were in Yamhill County.

State Police, tipped by a hunter, found more than 1,000 plants growing in the Scotts Mills area of Marion County earlier this month.

Yamhill County Sheriff Jack Crabtree said he's never seen a summer with so much marijuana found locally.

The Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team said the haul near Glendale was one of the county's largest and that the camp resembled in many ways those at more than 30 others patches they had busted this year.

In the various raids authorities reported finding several campsites from which the plants were tended, apparently on an occasional basis, but reported only one arrest.

The Douglas County grow was found from a helicopter. The plants' distinctive shade of green makes them easier to see by trained spotters.

Douglas County drug agents say police pressure on growers in Northern California, long a hotbed of marijuana growing, is forcing some growers to move operations north to Oregon although the drug has been grown in southern Oregon's Siskiyou Mountains, and elsewhere, for years.

They say many of the plantations in Oregon are tended by Mexican workers and that some are operated by Mexican drug cartels.

Estimates vary, but some agents say a mature 6-foot plant can yield marijuana worth about $1,000.

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