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Illegal marijuana traffickers often not prosecuted, investigator says

Investigators face an uphill battle putting enough evidence together to prosecute people believed to be involved in illegal grows.

Posted: Oct 21, 2021 7:25 PM

CRESWELL, Ore. -- A large portion of drug trafficking cases involving illegally grown marijuana are not prosecuted, according to an investigator with Oregon State Police's Northwest Region Marijuana Team.

That's because it's often difficult for investigators to identify any suspects and obtain enough evidence against them for prosecution to occur.

The investigator said some people caught transporting large amounts of marijuana show plausible deniability. They deny knowing or being responsible for actions taken by others because there's a lack of evidence about how much they were involved.

This comes after more than 2,000 marijuana plants and more than 200 pounds of processed, ready-to-sell marijuana worth more than $2 million in Oregon were seized by Lane County Sheriff's deputies at a barn near Creswell on Wednesday after a fire.

RELATED: CRESWELL FIRE LEADS AUTHORITIES TO ALLEGED DRUG TRAFFICKING OPERATION

Watermasters, who regulate an area's water supply, weighed in on the impact of illegal grows on the environment. 

They said massive illegal marijuana operations tend to use a large amount of water, which has exacerbated challenges presented by this past summer's drought. More than three-quarters of the state was under either extreme or exceptional drought conditions for several months.

MORE: OREGON BATTLES HISTORIC DROUGHT CONDITIONS

Watermasters said they had to turn off the water supply for those who didn't have senior water rights. People growing both legally and illegally can have senior water rights because properties may have been used for other purposes in the past. This made it more difficult to ensure only people growing legally were using what little water was available. 

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