By RYAN PFEIL
A harvest season crackdown on Josephine County medical marijuana growers led to the seizure of thousands of pounds of the plant and criminal charges for 26 people, the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement team reported Thursday. The growers were suspected of having significantly more of the drug than allowed under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.
In addition to the marijuana, the monthlong series of investigations netted 120 firearms and additional drugs, including methamphetamine and heroin, Oregon State Police said in a news release. A number of the cases have been submitted to the Josephine County District Attorney's Office for potential charges against additional suspects.
The release said the marijuana seized included 279 plants weighing about 7,500 pounds. There also were 930 pounds of marijuana buds -- the most potent part of the plant -- and "hundreds" of pounds of dried marijuana.
Investigators said a majority of the 17 cases involved individuals associated with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program who had more marijuana than allowed under state guidelines.
A handful of cases targeted growers suspected of selling marijuana for recreational use in local and out-of-state markets.
The cases took police to growing sites in Grants Pass, Cave Junction, Merlin, Wilderville, Williams and Selma.
Police said the largest raid netted the seizure of almost 5,000 pounds of growing marijuana from 32 mature plants at a Merlin residence in the 300 block of Connie Lane. Police used a dump truck to transport the plants from the site. Investigators also seized 43 pounds of bud, 53 pounds of other drying marijuana, 10 firearms and cash. Marshal Jones, 60, was cited and released on drug-related charges
The most recent raid on Tuesday targeted three Williams-area residences in the 1400 block of Rock Creek Road. Detectives seized 252 pounds of packaged and unpackaged marijuana, methamphetamine, 14 firearms, a ballistic vest, surveillance equipment and other evidence, police said. Ed Linebaugh, 57, Grady Haning, 32, and Andrew Haning, 30, were cited and released on drug-related charges.
The investigations into several of the cases are continuing.
RADE includes police from the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety, OSP, the Josephine County District Attorney's Office and Josephine County Community Corrections. The Jackson County Sheriff's Department also participated in the effort.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at email@example.com.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.