WESTFIR, Ore. – The Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and federal agents made one the biggest marijuana busts ever in Lane County Sunday.
Police say 3,000 plants were found deep in Willamette National Forest near Westfir. They say the discovery was estimated to be worth $30 million. Officers said they received a tip that lead them to the site.
“We went down a two thousand foot elevation decline and that elevation decline was a little over a mile so that’s a substantial incline that we went down,” said Sgt. Steve French, Lane County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman.
Deputies, troopers and a number of federal law enforcement agencies trekked down the side of a mountain to the site of a major marijuana growing operation.
“We determined that there were several thousand plants in three separate areas and today we went in and removed all of the marijuana from all three ends,” French said.
As authorities combed the mountain side, removing around 3,000 plants, 16 people sat in the Lane County Jail on federal drug charges in connection to the grow.
“Multiple suspects have multiple deportations from the United States back to Mexico,” French said.
With ties to Mexico, the sheriff’s office is trying to figure out if these people have ties to drug cartels.
“They’re saying they don’t. But I don’t believe everything that they tell me,” French said.
Investigators say the group will not be eligible for capacity-based releases, due to the federal charges they’ll be facing for this multi-million dollar operation.
“It’s my understanding that a lot of the marijuana grown in Oregon goes back to the Midwest or the east and they are looking at you know, $4,000 to $5,000 a pound in some places, instead of $2,000 to $3,000 a pound. So it’s worth a considerable amount more,” French said.
Once law enforcement finished cutting down all of the plants, a helicopter had to be brought in to take them away. Where they will be disposed of and burned.