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Congressman Bentz calls for Justice Department's help with illegal marijuana grows

US Representative Cliff Bentz sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling on him to bring federal attention to the issue of illegal marijuana grows in southern Oregon.

Posted: Nov 5, 2021 4:33 PM
Updated: Nov 5, 2021 4:40 PM

WASHINGTON, DC — After a brief segue into the issue of illegal marijuana grows in southern Oregon during a US House Judiciary meeting with Atorney General Merrick Garland last month, Congressman Cliff Bentz followed up with a letter to the nation's top law enforcement officer on Friday, urging him to put federal resources on the issue.

"At least four counties in this area are suffering from Mexican, Russian, and Chinese cartel activity," Bentz wrote to the Attorney General. "According to local law enforcement officials, these cartels are producing cannabis 'grows' farmed by thousands of undocumented people brought across our southern border."

Rep. Bentz met with law enforcement and elected leaders from Jackson and Josephine counties on October 14, where they briefed him on the extent of the illegal marijuana issue. Hours earlier, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners had declared a local state of emergency for the problem.

In his letter, Bentz referenced a DOJ memo that established federal resources woud avoid crackdowns on cannabis in states like Oregon that have legalized its use. Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, but enough states have legalized the plant in one form or another that federal law enforcement has largely de-prioritized its pursuit. An unintended consequence is the flourishing of black market marijuana.

"Oregon does not have the means to control the hundreds, if not thousands, of illegal cannabis 'grows,'" Bentz continued. "Likewise, Oregon cannot stop the influx of immigrants, many pressed into forced labor, necessary for the cartels to operate."

The Congressman pointed the finger at both the federal government's marijuana policies and the Biden administration's "lax border policies" for a humanitarian crisis.

"To put it bluntly, Oregon needs the Federal Government's help," Bentz continued. "Specifically, we need teams of up to 20 people for each affected county, to assist local law enforcement in identifying illegal grows, eradicating those grows, and then prosecuting the criminals conducting the illegal grows."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 513391

Reported Deaths: 5883
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah85131935
Washington61187460
Marion49387563
Clackamas44922456
Lane38991396
Deschutes33440225
Jackson30929408
Linn18298217
Umatilla17891190
Douglas15407320
Yamhill12414168
Josephine12201284
Polk10651112
Klamath10267178
Benton971546
Coos7772128
Malheur652995
Columbia539166
Jefferson525370
Lincoln470960
Crook419262
Union387065
Wasco369450
Clatsop338037
Tillamook271154
Hood River262138
Baker253938
Curry237040
Morrow235226
Grant128517
Harney128334
Lake111523
Wallowa87913
Sherman2283
Gilliam2224
Wheeler1652
Unassigned00

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Reported Deaths: 77938
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles228904528086
San Diego6052764545
Riverside5046365600
San Bernardino4898126259
Orange4778375932
Santa Clara2396851984
Sacramento2301242586
Alameda1980221564
Fresno1891302425
Kern1843621964
Contra Costa1516361086
Ventura1467381234
San Joaquin1392321958
Stanislaus1098531504
San Francisco101007694
Tulare1007111199
San Mateo92661644
Santa Barbara68566582
Monterey65049647
Solano63287391
Sonoma62980426
Placer55069508
Merced53881718
Imperial49663821
San Luis Obispo42315379
Kings41311392
Santa Cruz32906237
Madera31155333
Butte30899348
Yolo30430270
Shasta29200506
Marin27616251
El Dorado23569175
Napa17946109
Sutter17593198
Humboldt14457128
Yuba13344101
Nevada12844111
Tehama11708142
Mendocino11030102
San Benito1068689
Tuolumne954191
Lassen860659
Lake8149117
Amador674773
Calaveras566794
Siskiyou544662
Glenn522339
Del Norte426243
Colusa371321
Inyo367549
Unassigned36423
Mono27004
Plumas230112
Mariposa216118
Trinity111219
Modoc8486
Sierra2630
Alpine1180
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