Police confiscated 800 pounds of marijuana and 50 pounds of marijuana concentrate stashed in a Penske truck headed south of La Pine on U.S. Highway 97 earlier this month as part of a multiple site search stemming from unlicensed farms in Deschutes County, according to public documents.
According to court documents, police believe the pot was being taken to California. Black market sales of marijuana grown in Oregon and shipped to other states has been a growing problem since Oregon legalized recreational marijuana.
According to a search warrant document filed in Deschutes County, by Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement, the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating an unlicensed growing facility at 17521 Forked Horn Drive in Sisters in September. Search of the property led to other locations in Redmond and La Pine at which hundreds more pounds of pot were seized. Three men have been arrested so far.
Andrew I. Pollack, 28, and Dusty Michael Jones, 40, of Days Creek, were indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on charges of unlawful possession, delivery and manufacturing of marijuana. Shaun Gutta, 28, was indicted on charges of unlawful possession, delivery and manufacture of marijuana, unlawful possession of more than an ounce of cannabinoid extracts, frequenting a place where controlled substances are used, unlawful possession of what is commonly called ecstasy and unlawful manufacture of a marijuana item.
“Based on this being an ongoing CODE investigation, they are unable to release additional details at this time,” Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh said. “CODE’s intent is to release details about the investigation when it is completed.”
The first search occurred Oct. 11 at the home on Forked Horn Drive, according to court documents. There, officers saw 4,000 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, about 4 pounds of butane honey oil used to make concentrate and about 196 pounds of processed marijuana flower, according to court documents. It is unclear if officers confiscated those cannabis plants.
Gutta owns a property on Suza Court in La Pine about which officers had received complaints of marijuana odor. Gutta had told neighbors to the west of him that he would be growing medical marijuana. Police, however, checked with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which oversees recreational growing of marijuana, and did not find any active licenses for the address, according to court documents.
“Law enforcement is doing a great job of detecting and uprooting illegal activity,” said Mark Pettinger, OLCC spokesman. “We work in concert with law enforcement.”
Officers became alerted to the truck full of marijuana on Oct. 16 while they were going to the home on Suza Court to take a statement when they saw the truck leaving the property and followed it south on U.S. Highway 97, according to court documents. An Oregon State Police trooper pulled the Penske driver of the truck over for a seat belt offense and while walking around the vehicle, smelled marijuana, documents say.
The driver, Jones, told officers he knew Gutta. When officers searched the Penske truck, he discovered the extract, marijuana and butane honey oil lab equipment, documents say.
Officers followed Pollack, who was in a separate car, to the county line and stopped him and a passenger. Officers got permission to look at a cellphone in Pollack’s car and discovered photographs of marijuana plants and Pollack’s parked car at the same location.
“Det. Cory Buckley said he could clearly see a large scale outdoor marijuana grow (site), which included a greenhouse filled with what appeared to be marijuana plants in a ravine as well as many plants hanging upside down in a portable shed on the property,” according to court documents. A GPS check showed that video was taken at 5100 NW Canal Blvd. in Redmond, which borders another property at NE O’Neil Way, according to court documents.
Neither address is listed as regulated medical growing facility under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program nor a recreational site listed with the OLCC, documents say. The NE O’Neil Way address, however, is a registered hemp growing facility with the Department of Agriculture, according to court documents.
Burleigh said that the investigation is ongoing.
— Reporter: 541-633-2117, email@example.com