'Hidden outdoor garden' street value $600,000 to $1 million, officers estimate
Members of the Clackamas County Inter-agency Task Force seized a "hidden outdoor garden" of mature marijuana plants near Oregon City on Aug. 17 with an estimated street value of $600,000 to $1 million. No arrests have yet been made.
Officers said that the 355 plants were very well hidden about 200 yards from Highway 99E south of Oregon City on ODOT and Union Pacific Railroad property. Task force members had to slash through blackberry bushes and poison oak to get to the secluded grow operation, which was not visible from the highway.
Officers had been investigating the grow operation for more than a month and made their move after following a series of leads. They found an elaborate drip-irrigation system watering the mature marijuana plants, which were between five and six feet high. Officials said they believe the irrigation system was illegally tapping into a nearby property owner's water supply and that the neighbor wasn't aware it was happening.
Informants reportedly told officials that the marijuana plants had been put in earlier this year and were regularly tended. Officials noted that the surrounding neighbors are not considered suspects in the case.
Clackamas County Inter-agency Task Force member agencies participating in this investigation included the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Milwaukie Police Department, Gladstone Police Department and Molalla Police Department.
Anyone with tips or other information about this case are asked to contact the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Tip Line at 503-723-4949 or use the online form at http://www.co.clackamas.or.us/sheriff/tip.htm. Reference Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Case No. 11-70308.
Officials also noted that it's marijuana season in Oregon and encouraged members of the public to be aware and careful and to report suspicious activity. They said illegal marijuana operations worth a lot of money are being harvested in August and September and that growers sometimes use violence to protect their valuable crops.
Booby traps and armed guards have been reported in Oregon and California during the past two years, and last year, armed suspects fired upon police in an outdoor garden in Jackson County. In June of this year, officers were shot at as they approached a marijuana garden in Tulare County in northern California.
Officials recommended that hikers, fishermen and other outdoor recreationists should leave a suspected marijuana grow area immediately and report observations to local police. Record the location if possible, and do not confront anyone associated with the operation.