Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) uncovered a suspected Butane Honey Oil (BHO) cannabis concentrate laboratory when responding to assist Medford Fire Department with a structure fire on Monday. ECSO received a call for a fire burning a warehouse barn in the 500 block of Arnold Lane in rural west Medford at 1:15 p.m.
Minutes later a responding JCSO detective spotted and detained two males attempting to leave the scene. Medford Police Department (MPD) officers responded to assist. After the barn was mostly destroyed in the fire, a large amount of marijuana and BHO processing equipment could be seen from the perimeter of the barn. There was no licensing for any type of cannabis growing, handling, or processing at this location.
Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) detectives took over the investigation and applied for a search warrant for the premises. During IMET’s investigation detectives located 1,000 lbs. of processed marijuana and the remains of a suspected BHO lab. IMET interviewed both suspects about their involvement. Tarlon Smith, 34, of Massachusetts is charged with felony first-degree arson incident to the manufacture of a cannabinoid extract, felony unlawful manufacture of a marijuana item, and felony unlawful possession. He was lodged in the Jackson County Jail. The second suspect was released pending charges.
BHO is an extracted cannabis product similar to hash. Most of the solvents used in the creation of BHO vaporize quickly and are flammable, making the extraction process dangerous. Medford Fire is investigating the cause of the fire.
While regulatory agencies investigate permitted cannabis operations, IMET is focusing on the black-market marijuana trade in the Rogue Valley. IMET is a multi-agency task force funded by a grant from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. The task force includes personnel from JCSO, MPD, Homeland Security Enforcement, Jackson County Code Enforcement, Oregon Water Resources Department District 13 Watermasters, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s office.
All suspects are considered innocent until any/all charges are proven true against them in a court of law.