Sheriff’s Office says smoke led to discovery of massive Klamath County marijuana processing facility

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kaber expressed incredulity on Saturday as his agency revealed the discovery of a major marijuana processing facility “conservatively” containing more than $100 million worth of marijuana in various states of processing.

“I have managed drug teams and worked in law enforcement for over thirty years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Kaber said. “We believe this was a facility that was central to processing for many of the illegal grows in the area.”

Firefighters from Klamath County Fire District 1 were dispatched on Wednesday to a property in the 4000-block of Highway 39 outside of Klamath Falls, just south of the Klamath County College campus, for reports of smoke coming from a building. Upon arrival, firefighters called for law enforcement support, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies dispatched to the scene discovered a large marijuana processing facility, and KCSD said that investigators over the next few days to catalogue the contents of the roughly 27,000 square-foot building. The Sheriff’s Office estimated that the vast quantities of partially processed and unprocessed marijuana could have been worth more than $100 million when sold on the black market in other states.

The building contained drying and packaging equipment, and KCSD said that there were “numerous” violations of electrical, heat, and safety codes. The investigation led officers to further locations in the 11500-block of Springlake Road and the 8300-bock of Elliott Road where they destroyed thousands more pounds of processed and drying marijuana.

“We believe we’ve disrupted the operations of this group of organized criminals in a very significant way,” Sheriff Kaber said. “Beyond the illegal nature of these facilities, this also represents many millions of gallons of water used for this illegal activity at a time of extreme drought when many people don’t have water for even basic necessities.

“I will be asking the District Attorney to pursue forfeiture of the property on Highway 39 as well as stepping up forfeiture action of future sites to discourage this activity. People need to understand that they are ultimately responsible for what happens on their property, even if they rent or lease it to other people who use it illegally.”

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