Human trafficking, forced labor suspected at cannabis farm
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A ranch in Southern Oregon’s Illinois Valley this week as part of an investigation into illegal cannabis cultivation, human trafficking and forced labor, law enforcement said.
The raid was part of a larger probe that began with the death of a man from a different suspected illegal cannabis farm in Cave Junction, Jefferson Public Radio reported.
In that case, the man was driven to a gas station in critical condition and left there, according to the Josephine County Sheriff’s department. The man died in an ambulance. Within two days, that farm had been harvested, and the workers had moved to the Illinois Valley ranch raided this week, Sheriff Dave Daniel said.
“We’ve heard of the threat of harm to your family,” if people don’t go with them, Daniel said.
The Josephine County Sheriffs department was joined in the raid of the large-scale operation by 16 other state and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.
The agencies seized ten firearms and $140,000 in cash this week, authorities said, in addition to destroying more than 72,000 cannabis plants, 6,000 pounds of processed cannabis and 373 greenhouses.
Officers found workers living in squalid conditions, according to the sheriff. The workers denied that they had been trafficked, Daniel said. The Department of Homeland Security offered victim services to the workers, but all turned the services down, Daniel said.
No arrests have been made.