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Chinese Nationals Trafficked Across Southern Border Recruited For Illegal Cartel Marijuana Grow Operation

Several Chinese nationals were trafficked across the US-Mexico border and later recruited by a cartel to work in illegal marijuana grow operations in Oregon, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team. (CODED).

The Chinese nationals were working in restaurants in Oregon and Washington after crossing the border into the United States, where they were then offered work at the grow sites by a Chinese cartel, according to the press release. Workers were moved to different cultivation sites and lived there. (RELATED: Border officials see record numbers of migrants from Mexico)

Local and federal authorities made the discovery as part of a two-year investigation that began when community members complained about the cartel’s 20 grow operations in Jefferson County, Oregon, the statement said. Press.

The cartel laundered the revenue from the growth through Chinese restaurants and businesses, then sent the profits to China.

Six search warrants were executed in Madras and Culver, Oregon resulting in the arrest of 15 people and the seizure of 16,240 pounds of processed marijuana, 17,604 plants, 4 firearms and a treasure trove of US currency.

“Possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal for recreational use in Oregon. However, large unlicensed marijuana operations remain illegal. Because these operations are unregulated, they pose dangers to the public. and the environment,” the press release reads.

The crops pose major risks to the environment and the public safety of nearby residents, as the areas have been plagued with droughts and investigators have found that the crops are stealing water from local sources. The crops also used pesticides and insecticides that can mix with residents’ water supplies.

In other parts of the country, such as Antelope Valley in California, illegal marijuana grow ops are all too common and are often owned and operated by foreign criminal organizations, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The Marijuana Eradication Team, which is a multi-agency group, served 116 search warrants related to the cultivation of marijuana, arrested 107 people, seized 101,090 marijuana plants, 53 firearms and destroyed 14 980 pounds of marijuana harvested in the first four months of 2022, according to the sheriff’s office.

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Post expires at 7:00am on Tuesday June 28th, 2022