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Pot raid reveals hundreds of plants.

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

David Larson of Eugene was stunned to hear that drug agents had found 1,127 marijuana plants growing inside three adjacent homes he began leasing to a renter in Santa Clara more than a year ago.

"1,100 plants? How is that even possible?" wondered Larson, the homes' owner.

Investigators say his 33-year-old renter - who has not been identified - is a West Linn resident who allegedly used the homes on Wilkes Drive exclusively to grow pot.

Armed with search warrants, detectives from several law enforcement agencies raided the unoccupied homes off River Road on Monday morning and found evidence of a lucrative drug-dealing operation.

"Three or four rooms in each house were filled" with marijuana and growing equipment, Oregon State Police Sgt. Ted Phillips said. "There wasn't anything in those houses to support anyone living there."

The suspect - who has a state license to grow a relatively small amount of pot for one medical marijuana patient - allegedly told investigators that the sophisticated operation produced about 13 pounds of the drug each month, which was sold for $3,200 a pound, Phillips said.

Investigators found the suspect at his West Linn home, where they seized another 149 pot plants.

Larson said he didn't learn of the bust until Wednesday. That's when he said the renter called him to claim that he had subleased the Santa Clara homes to two other men.

Larson said the West Linn resident began renting the homes - which are situated about two blocks from Madison Middle School - in August 2008.

"I had no idea, whatsoever, of what was going on inside," Larson said. "Obviously, I'm devastated by this."

Officials said Monday's seizure was part of an investigation that began eight months ago. Detectives with Lane County's Interagency Enforcement Team, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Oregon State Police and the Lane County Sheriff's Office all worked on the case.

Multiple charges are pending against the West Linn man, whom Larson said owns a construction company. Investigators won't release his name until he is arrested.

Phillips said the case remains under investigation. He wouldn't rule out the possibility that other people could face charges in connection with the drug operation.

Under Oregon Medical Marijuana Program guidelines, the West Linn man was authorized to possess six mature plants, 18 seedlings and 1.5 pounds of usable marijuana for one medical marijuana patient.
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Title Annotation:City/Region; Police say a renter was using three Eugene homes to grow marijuana
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 12, 2009
Words:397
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