Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 10/4 – Jackson County Task Force Busy Busting Black Market Grows, Brush Fire in Cave Junction

The latest news stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from the digital home of Southern Oregon, Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2022 

Rogue Valley Weather

Local Illegal Marijuana Task Force Busy Busting Black Market Grows; Seizes & Destroys 10.5k Plants, 4k Lbs. Cannabis  

JACKSON COUNTY, OR: The Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) was busy this September serving black-market cannabis search warrants throughout Jackson County while the outdoor growing season winds down. Last month, IMET seized 10,570 marijuana plants, and 4,020 lbs. of processed cannabis from three separate properties. At this time there is no evidence suggesting the cases are connected. IMET also assisted Oregon State Police with three warrants and Josephine County Sheriff’s Office with one. 

On September 14, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) SWAT team responded to a black-market cannabis growing and processing facility to assist IMET detectives in serving a search warrant. IMET utilized the JCSO SWAT team after investigations determined an elevated threat level due to the property owner’s violent criminal history. The grow, located at the 7900 block of East Antelope Road in rural Eagle Point, Ore. contained 6,496 marijuana plants growing in rows without greenhouses. This growing method is usually reserved for hemp but testing confirmed the plants were marijuana. The property contained no licensing of any kind.

There was no one on scene when the warrant was served but the primary suspect has been identified. During a search of the residence, investigators discovered a trimming facility, scales, packaging material, and shipping boxes, as well as nine counterfeit $100 bills. Jackson County Code Enforcement issued $2,000 in fines to the property owner for failing to obtain marijuana production approval, and non-permitted electrical. Oregon Water Resources Department District 13 Watermasters observed water use from wells for commercial irrigation that is not authorized. Department staff will issue a Notice of Violation (NOV) to the responsible parties. Water violations of this kind are subject to both civil and criminal penalties.

On September 20, IMET served a search warrant at a tax lot near the 700 block of West Fork Trail Creek Road in Trail, Ore. On scene, detectives seized 740 plants, 3,900 lbs. of processed cannabis, and two firearms. There was no one on scene when the warrant was served but the primary suspect has been identified. Code Enforcement issued fines totaling $21,000 to the property owner for violations including unpermitted greenhouse structures, unapproved marijuana production, unpermitted electrical installations, solid waste, and camping within a marijuana grow site. Watermasters responded to conduct a compliance check and the landowner was found to be out of compliance with a water use violation that was issued on August 17. The investigation is being forwarded to enforcement.

On September 21, IMET served a search warrant on the 15500 block of East Evans Creek Road in rural Rogue River, Ore. At the location, investigators seized 3,334 plants, and 120 lbs. processed. There was no one on scene when the warrant was served but the primary suspects have been identified. Code Enforcement issued $14,000 in fines to the property owner for 2 non-permitted greenhouse structures, failing to obtain marijuana production approval, non-permitted electrical, and accumulation of solid waste. Watermasters observed water use from wells for commercial irrigation that is not authorized and will issue an NOV to the responsible parties. Water violations of this kind are subject to both civil and criminal penalties.

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, Medford Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, Code Enforcement, Watermasters, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office. 

Investigations are open and ongoing with detectives working additional leads. No further information is currently available for release. Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office

Brush Fire in Cave Junction: Illinois Valley Fire District

10/01/2022 call time 1421 hours Illinois Valley Fire District and Oregon Department of Forestry responded to 280XX Redwood Hwy (South of Cave Junction) for a “possible” open burn.

First units on scene found a fast moving grass/brush with several structures threatened. Units were able to stop the forward travel of the fire and protect the structures.

The fire has been wet lined and is being mopped up, within fifteen minutes of arrival.  The final size of the fire was 1.3 acres. Units monitored the scene well into evening. ODF and IVFD will be working together on the investigation.

Grants Pass Police Department SWAT Activity Sunday

On Sunday, October 2nd, 2022, at 3:15 AM, the Grants Pass Police Department received a 911 call from a resident in the 1300 block of SW Jordan St.  The reporting party advised he was not currently home, and was notified by his surveillance system of an intrusion into his residence.  Upon review of the surveillance recordings, the caller identified an adult male had gained access into his home and was removing valuables.  The caller identified the suspect as 35-year-old Eric William Kelly.  

Responding officers arrived to find Kelly outside the home stacking items belonging to the victim.  Responding officers attempted to contact Kelly, who immediately ran into the victim’s house.  Officers established a perimeter, hoping to prevent Kelly’s escape.   

The Grants Pass Police Department are familiar with Kelly and his violent criminal history, and activated SWAT and Crisis Negotiations Teams (CNT). SWAT conducted operations at the residence on SW Jordan Street for approximately two hours. 

Kelly was subsequently located at a neighboring address and was taken into custody without incident. Kelly was transported to the Josephine County Jail and charged with Burglary 1, Theft 1, and interfering with police.  Grants Pass Police Department 

The City of Medford has a Response to a Woman Suing the City.

April Fonseca, also known as April Ehrlich, is one of ten people arrested in Hawthorne Park when closed to the public for sanitation, cleaning and inspection on September 22, 2020.  The City notes that Fonseca’s civil case claims her arrest was unlawful.

The City’s position is that the temporary closure of the park to all members of the public was lawful.  Late Friday the City responded to Fonseca’s lawsuit against the City, its police department and Jackson County.  The City says case law states that public entities have the right to temporarily close public property for repairs and cleaning.

The City noted that “journalists have no special or unique right of physical access to property that has been closed to the general public.”  Fonseca says she was working as a journalist to record police actions that day.  Police officers arrested her and charged her with trespassing, resisting arrest and interfering with a police officer.

The City says, “Other journalists present on the day in question covered the park closure from outside of the closure area. Fonseca was instructed about the closure area and was arrested only after refusing a lawful order to leave the closure area.”

The City says when property is closed to the general public, including temporarily closures by police action to the public, it is closed to reporters like other members of the public.

Medford Pedestrian Safety Operation Results

On Friday September 30th, 2022, officers from the Medford Police Department Traffic Team and Deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Team conducted a joint agency Targeted Pedestrian Safety Operation on W 4th Street at Bartlett Street in the City of Medford. Prior to the operation the City of Medford had received complaints about this intersection in regards to pedestrian safety at the crosswalk. This intersection has an unmarked crosswalk and is in a 25 MPH speed zone. The operation focused on drivers failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians in the crosswalk. 

Several days prior to the operation the Medford Police Department sent out a press release announcing this operation. The press release included information in regards to a driver’s responsibility at marked and unmarked crosswalks. On Thursday signs were posted at the crosswalk advising of the operation scheduled for Friday September 30th, 2022.   

This operation was conducted to raise awareness and increase pedestrian safety through the enforcement of pedestrian right of way laws with the use of a decoy pedestrian. During the Targeted Pedestrian Safety Operation 24 citations, 9 warnings were issued for Failure to Stop and Remain Stopped for a pedestrian. There were also several citations for many other violations and traffic crimes. The results of the entire operation are listed below.    

Please be reminded of the Oregon laws that require a driver must stop and remain stopped if a pedestrian is walking in your lane of traffic or the lane adjacent, remembering this applies on single and multi-lane roadways.  Oregon law also prohibits passing a stopped vehicle at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection if the vehicle is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway. 

Additional traffic Citations Issued:  7 – Cell Phone Violations, 3 – Driving While Suspended, 3 – Other Violations, 17 – Warnings for Miscellaneous Violations 

Join a free webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to learn about the symptoms, treatments and advocacy tips for long COVID: http://ow.ly/RLok50KXCMl

"Navigating Long COVID" webinar features experts Dr. Aluko Hope, Medical Director at OHSU Long COVID Clinic; Dylan Morgan, Manager for Employer Assistance, Bureau of Labor and Industries; Emily Cooper, Legal Director, Disability Rights Oregon. OHA welcomes all participants. For any questions about accommodations call 971-352-5658 (voice/text) or email Eaen.Goss@dhsoha.state.or.us or Lynn.Russell@dhsoha.state.or.us.

Nearly one in five adults who’ve had COVID-19 report persistent symptoms, a condition known as long COVID-19. In the last two years, researchers have been studying long COVID to find out why it occurs and how to help those who live with it.

Experts will discuss and answer questions about the latest research surrounding long COVID as well as workplace rights for those with long COVID under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If you have questions about long COVID for the experts, submit them in advance here: http://ow.ly/8FSG50KXCMn

The webinar will offer Spanish translation, live captions/CART and American Sign Language interpretations. A recording will be available.

School-related COVID-19 positive test or exposure questions? Call OHA's toll-free COVID-19 support hotline: 866-917-8881 or text "OHACOVID" to 61222. Trained public health professionals can help answer general questions about COVID-19 exposure for students/families and provide general COVID-19 health info. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Interpreters available.

Testing positive for COVID-19, or even being exposed to it, can be scary. This is especially true for school-aged children and their parents or caregivers. Trained public health professionals at Oregon Health Authority’s toll-free Test Positive hotline are here to help answer school-related COVID-19 positive test or exposure questions: Call (866) 917-8881. Learn more: http://ow.ly/apkg50L0pwS

Governor Brown Announces Oregon Supreme Court Vacancy

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced on Monday, October 3rd that she is accepting applications to fill a vacancy on the Oregon Supreme Court.

Justice Thomas Balmer is retiring effective December 31, 2022. Gov. Brown thanked Justice Balmer for his dedicated judicial service.

In 2021 there were vacancies in the Oregon Court of Appeals, for which candidates were interviewed and vetted by the Governor’s Office and the Oregon State Bar in a combined appellate judicial appointment process.

Applicants who already submitted interest forms as part of last year’s appointment process will be considered for Justice Balmer’s position and need not apply again.

Interested applicants who did not apply during last year’s combined appellate judicial appointment process and who would like to be considered by the Governor’s Office and the Oregon State Bar for Justice Balmer’s position should address their completed application forms to the General Counsel for the Office of the Governor, and email (no mail or hand delivery) those completed forms to Shevaun Gutridge at shevaun.gutridge@oregon.gov

Gov. Brown fills judicial vacancies based on merit. She encourages applications from lawyers with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Forms must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

Portland FBI Issues Kid’s Cyber Safety Tips

There have been a number of recent cases of children being lured by strangers online to either meet in person or send explicit photos of themself. The FBI’s Portland office urges parents to take steps now to protect children from online predators:

Be involved and understand your child’s internet activity. Know the devices your child has access to and familiarize yourself with the social media sites, apps, and online games they use to communicate with their friends. Get involved in your kids’ online world to understand what they do online and who they communicate with.

Set clear rules and closely monitor your child’s online activity. And designate one place in the home where your children are allowed to access the internet. Discuss internet safety with children of all ages when they begin to engage in online activity and use internet enabled devices. Many people online are not who they say they are, never communicate with people you don’t know. 

Teach children to communicate only with people they know in real life; friends they see regularly and trusted relatives.  If your child becomes a victim, the FBI suggests calling the local field office or police and don’t try to take matters into your own hands. 

Violent Weekend in Portland

Portland Police are investigating a total of four homicides that occurred over a 24-hour period over the weekend. The Portland Police Bureau says the homicides include two fatal stabbings in Old Town, a fatal shooting in NE Portland and a fatal shooting in Southeast Portland, all between early Friday morning and early Saturday. Police have arrested three suspects. Investigations are ongoing.

OSP Traffic Stop Leads to Arrests and Large Fentanyl Seizure- Jefferson County

On September 28, 2022, at about 10:11 P.M., an Oregon State Police Trooper stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation in Madras. During the course of the stop, reasonable suspicion was developed for drug trafficking. The drug dog alerted to the presence of narcotics. A search of the vehicle revealed six (6) bundles concealed within the vehicle, with a gross weight of approximately 14.48 pounds. A preliminary test of the narcotics showed it was fentanyl powder.

The driver Jesus Villalpando Rubio (31) from Phoenix, Arizona, and the passenger Oscar Urias Haro (31) from Tucson, Arizona, were lodged in the Jefferson County Jail for various drug crimes.

This is an ongoing investigation with no further information being released.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (https://www.dea.gov/resources/facts-about-fentanyl), one kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill about 500,000 people.

OSP Troopers were assisted during the investigation by Detectives from the OSP-Criminal Investigations Division-Drug Enforcement Section (Domestic Highway Enforcement Initiative) and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The Oregon State Police-Domestic Highway Enforcement Initiative is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including the OSP-DHE Initiative.

Three prescribed burns are planned in the coming days and weeks at Crater Lake National Park.

The park’s fire management staff are preparing to conduct three prescribed fire projects in the park this fall along Highway 62 South, near Mazama Village and Munson Valley.

According to a press release, the Highway 62 South project includes 50 acres of piles and material that were cut last year along the highway starting at the park’s southern boundary and continuing 3.5 miles to the north along the roadway.

The Mazama Village unit will include 64 acres of piles and material that were cut last spring around the Mazama Campground and developed area. The Munson Valley Defensible Space unit includes 25 acres of piles that were cut around historic structures, administrative offices and park housing in Munson Valley.

Fire Management Officer Ed Waldon said Crater Lake’s fire managers plan to begin burning the piles in the next few weeks and will continue burning through the fall as conditions allow.

Farmers Brief Congressional Staff On Western Drought

The following is a press release from the Family Farm Alliance

WASHINGTON, D.C.– A group of 30 Western farmers, ranchers, water managers and association leaders wrapped up the third day of meetings this week with a Western drought briefing attended by over 20 Congressional staff members and an appearance by Family Farm Alliance President Patrick O’Toole before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee.

Today’s events were part of this year’s “Farmer Lobbyist” trip, one of the Family Farm Alliance’s cornerstone programs. This annual event was created over 25 years ago to allow farmers, ranchers and water managers to interact directly with elected officials and other policy makers in Washington, D.C.

This year’s farmer lobbyist contingent included representatives from Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

Earlier today, the Alliance hosted a Western Drought Briefing for Congressional staff at the Capitol Visitors Center.

“This in-person event allowed Congressional staff an opportunity to hear directly from the Western producers and water managers who are literally at Ground Zero dealing with the challenges of one of the worst droughts for the Western U.S. in modern history,” said Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen.

Congressman Cliff Bentz (R-OR) kicked off the event with opening remarks. He met earlier in the week with the farmer lobbyists in the hearing room of the House Resources Committee.

Following Rep. Bentz’s welcoming comments, water managers and farmers from California, Oregon, and the Colorado River Basin described the challenges they are facing, the drivers behind those challenges, and what can be done to help. The one-hour event concluded with a question-and-answer session.

“Solving the water challenges of our day will require everybody working together in a bipartisan fashion,” said William Bourdeau, a California producer and Alliance Board member. “Everyone will benefit when we solve these challenges.”

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, Alliance President Patrick O’Toole was one of four witnesses who testified before the Senate ENR Committee, which conducted a legislative hearing on several bending bills, including the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022 (S. 4904). This bipartisan legislation – introduced by ENR Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY) would reduce catastrophic wildfire risk and improve forest health.

“We are facing brutal wildfires across the West that threaten Wyoming’s forests and communities,” said Ranking Member Barrasso. “Our bipartisan bill will fight back against wildfire risk. It directs the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to cut red tape and dramatically increase their wildfire mitigation projects. I’m thankful to Chairman Manchin for working with me on this important legislation.”

The hearing was webcast live, and an archived video was made available HERE shortly after the hearing was complete.

“The revival of Colorado River and other Western watershed forests is crucial to combating the effects of climate change,” said Mr. O’Toole, whose family operates a sheep and cattle ranch in Wyoming. “By bringing together changemakers and working collaboratively, we can change the paradigm of forest management. Success will mean healthier forests, healthier wildlife populations, more prosperous and dynamic local communities, and much-needed security in our water supplies.”

Mr. O’Toole’s testimony outlined the dire conditions of Western forests and explained why S.4904 is an important step towards improving their future health: https://drive.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59b9f24c64b05fd6531db026/t/6335fc4ed2b80534f0dc4229/1664482383920/September-2022-Senate-ENR-Committee-Hearing-TESTIMONY-OF-PATRICK-OTOOLE-FINAL.pdf&wmode=opaque

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has closed all razor clam harvesting on the Oregon coast, the ODA announced Friday.

The marine biotoxin domoic acid has been found in levels exceeding the closure limit along the entire coast. Razor clamming is closed from the Washington border to the California border.

The ODA says it will test for shellfish toxins twice a month. Two consecutive tests at least one week apart that show domoic acid levels below the limit must take place for razor clam harvesting to reopen. Domoic acid, says the ODA, is produced by naturally occurring algae and originates in the ocean.

For more information call ODA’s shellfish biotoxin safety hotline at (800) 448-2474, the Food Safety Division at (503) 986-4720, or visit the ODA Shellfish Biotoxin Closures webpage.
Contact ODFW for recreational license requirements, permits, rules, and limits.

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This is just a small compilation of missing women and their pictures in the area. There are of course women missing all over Oregon and men and children missing too. We don’t mean to dismiss that, however, there is an inordinate amount of women who go missing each week and there could possibly be a connection with an anomaly or two here and there. Sadly most of them never get any attention. Family and friends must keep any information going and lead investigations so that they aren’t just forgotten. 

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https://www.facebook.com/pg/Have-You-Seen-Me-Southern-Oregons-Missing-People-161249961222839/posts/

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