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Second Large Outdoor Marijuana Grow Found in Wallowa County; Two Suspects Arrested
08/25/2011
Sheriff Fred Steen
Wallowa County Sheriff's Office
(541) 426-3131 ext. 2401
 
Sergeant John Shaul
La Grande Police Department
(541) 963-1017

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A multi-agency investigation this week led to the arrest of two suspects at a remote northeast Oregon outdoor marijuana grow site, the second large outdoor grow site located this summer in Wallowa County. The investigation and arrests are leading Oregon law enforcement officials to again urge citizens to continue to be on the lookout for indications of illegal marijuana growing this summer and upcoming hunting season while outdoors, and to immediately notify law enforcement officials if you come across suspicious activity or an area where an illegal grow site may be.

 
The investigation began last Thursday when a possible outdoor marijuana growing operation was spotted by a helicopter. When law enforcement responded to the grow site, two suspects were taken into custody without incident.
 
On August 24, 2011 a multi-agency team served a search warrant on private Forest Capital lands in a remote section of northern Wallowa County. When officers raided the site they discovered over 10,300 marijuana plants 3 to 5 feet tall that were eradicated. Estimated value of the marijuana eradicated is approximately $25 million.
 
Law enforcement officials believe this grow operation had been ongoing for many years without knowledge of the land owner. Additionally, there was extensive environmental damage done to this area of old growth timber including substantial amounts of trash, chemicals and irrigation tubing littered about the forest. Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division is conducting an investigation into multiple environmental crimes that were discovered at the site.
 

Arrested and lodged at the Union County Jail related to this investigation were:
  • Manuel Carrazco-Mendoza, age 50,
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  • Francisco Gallardo-Carrasco, age 25
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Law enforcement officials have not confirmed where the two men are from who are currently held on charges of Unlawful Manufacture and Possession of Marijuana at the Union County Jail. The criminal investigation is ongoing, to include possible charges related to environmental crimes, and no other suspects have been arrested at this time.
 

Law enforcement officials believe it is critical for the public to continue to be aware of the potential dangers and signs related to suspected outdoor marijuana grow sites. People are urged to pay attention and on the lookout for possible signs of illegal outdoor marijuana growing activity including:
  • Seeing vehicles and people in unusual locations, at odd hours, or dropping off or picking up people in remote areas
  • Coming across a vehicle or person with an unusual supply of camping equipment or other items such as fertilizer, PVC pipe, irrigation hoses, small plastic planters, propane tanks, tents or tarps and gardening tools
  • Unexpected encounters with people armed with firearms outside of hunting season or non-traditional hunting areas
  • Finding fish kills in streams or large amounts of garbage in a remote area with empty bags of fertilizer or other chemicals, piping, plastic planters, and camping equipment
  • Seeing people in remote areas starting to landscape or clearing land
  • Noticing foot paths or trails that seem heavily used in non-traditional hiking or trail areas

 
"Our message is the same as it was following the discovery two months ago of what we believe is the largest site ever been found in Oregon. If you come across a possible marijuana grow site, make a mental note of your location and any landmark, GPS coordinate, or other identifiers to help police easily find it. Exit the same way you came into the area and be watchful for any unexpected surprises or people, then call police," said Shaul.
 

State, county, local and federal law enforcement agencies involved in Wednesday multi-agency operation were:
  • Wallowa County Sheriff's Office
  • La Grande Police Department
  • Union/Wallowa County Drug Task Force
  • Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team
  • Enterprise Police Department
  • Oregon National Guard, Counterdrug
  • United States Forest Service Law Enforcement
  • Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement
  • Union County Sheriff's Office
  • Oregon State Police Marijuana Eradication Team (A trained group of state troopers utilized by the Department and available to outside law enforcement agencies during the summer months to assist with the eradication and investigations related to outdoor marijuana grows)