5,000 pot plants seized

POLK COUNTY -- Local and state law enforcement officials seized nearly 5,000 marijuana plants from illegal grow sites across Polk County on Friday, Sept. 24.

POLK COUNTY -- Local and state law enforcement officials seized nearly 5,000 marijuana plants from illegal grow sites across Polk County on Friday, Sept. 24.

Several agencies were involved in removing plants in Falls City and at large grows in a remote spot in south Polk County and another off Bethel Road.

Polk County Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Garton said authorities had been investigating since mid-summer an operation on Green Mountain, near the corner of Polk, Benton and Lincoln counties.

The sheriff's office, Polk Interagency Narcotics Team (POINT), Oregon State Police and Polk County Search and Rescue found 1,937 plants ranging from 1 foot to 6 feet tall amidst a grove of trees on state forest lands.

Nobody was present during the seizure, but living quarters, gardening equipment and a firearm were found on the site, Garton said.

Officials then seized plants, 22 and 30 respectively, at spots outside of Falls City, Garton said.

Ironically, as this was occurring, authorities received a tip from a property owner about another illicit grow off Bethel Road, perhaps 500 yards west of Highway 99W, Garton said.

There, deputies and police found 2,937 plants of varying sizes and production capabilities, fertilizer and watering supplies encircled by trees and brush near a hay field.

"That was the first time we had ever heard about that grow," Garton said. "It was quite bizarre -- it just happened to be on the day we were seizing others."

There is an ongoing investigation into the Green Mountain site. There are no suspects in the Bethel Road grow, and possible suspects with the Falls City gardens, Garton said.

The large Bethel Road garden was eradicated by OSP and POINT, the sheriff's office said.

In July, Polk County deputies located a marijuana garden that contained more than 3,700 small plants.

That site was on private logging grounds near Gold Creek Road southeast of Grand Ronde. As far as the estimated value of the plants, it was the largest drug seizure in Polk County in at least 11 years.

Anyone with information on any of the mentioned grow operations is encouraged to contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 503-623-9251.

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