JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) detectives served multiple search warrants on two black-market marijuana grow sites in as many days. Combined, the raids uncovered 15-thousand lbs. of processed illegal marijuana, more than 20-thousand plants yet to be cultivated, five firearms, and nearly $650,000 in cash. Overall, three warrants were served, and one suspect has been arrested. During the raids on both properties, 111 workers were taken into custody, interviewed, and released.
IMET is a multi-agency task force funded by a grant from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. The task force includes personnel from Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), Medford Police Department, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office. Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Jackson County Code Enforcement, and the Jackson County Fire District #3 (JCFD3) Fire Marshal assisted and will be enforcing more penalties and fines on both properties.
The first raid was Tuesday at 7:11 a.m., where investigations led IMET to a property in the 10000 block of Old Stage Rd. in Gold Hill. At this location, detectives found bags of cash totaling $643,524, five firearms, and forged identification. In a nearby storage room, investigations uncovered 10-thousand lbs. of processed marijuana which was previously weighed, separated, and individually packaged for distribution. A total of 58 workers were taken into custody and one man was arrested. The suspect, Hernan Sanchez Villalobos, 33, a Mexican citizen and the Gold Hill property owner, was arrested for felony charges of prohibited import or export, unlawful possession, unlawful manufacture, and conspiracy for unlawful distribution of a marijuana item, as well as second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument (fake ID), and laundering a monetary instrument. The property had no permits to grow or process marijuana for recreational, commercial, or medical purposes.
The very next day on Wednesday at 7:49 a.m., IMET served a search warrant at an additional black-market marijuana grow site on the 1000 block of Meridian Rd. in Eagle Point. At this site, detectives discovered 20,199 plants in 102 greenhouses, and five-thousand lbs. of processed illegal marijuana. On the property, 53 workers were taken into custody, interviewed, and released. The property had an Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) license to grow hemp, but was not permitted to grow or process marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.
While regulatory agencies investigate permitted cannabis operations, IMET is focusing on the black-market marijuana trade in the Rogue Valley. Oregon State Police (OSP), Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE) detectives, and JCSO deputies assisted with both operations.
Investigations are open and ongoing with detectives working additional leads. No further information is currently available for release.