Oregon Marijuana Attracting 'Criminal Networks,' Feds Say

PORTLAND, OR – Oregon’s marijuana program is a magnet, attracting criminal networks who then send the marijuana out of state. That’s the assessment of Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy Williams.

“Oregon’s marijuana industry is attracting organized criminal networks looking to capitalize on the state’s relaxed regulatory environment,” Williams said on Wednesday. “Dismantling criminal organizations is a key focus of our marijuana enforcement strategy.

“We will continue to work with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to disrupt overproduction and the illegal export of marijuana out-of-state.”

Williams’s comments came as he announced that federal agents had broken up what he says were “two vast conspiracies to” to grow marijuana in Oregon and send it to Texas, Virginia, and Florida.

Six people were arrested in the two cases.

Williams says that in the two cases, agents seized about 11,000 marijuana plants,546 pounds of marijuana, nearly $3 million in cash, 51 guns, 26 vehicles, trailers, and pieces of heavy equipment.

They also seized a yacht.

One indictment states that Jody Tremayne Wafer, 29, Trent Lamar Knight, 30, and Brittany Lesanta Kizzee, 28, of Houston, Texas; and Raleigh Dragon Lau, 33, and Paul Eugene Thomas, 38, of Portland, conspired to manufacture marijuana in Portland, and distribute it in Texas and Virginia.

The other charges that Cole William Griffiths, 30, of Hood River, Oregon, conspired to manufacture marijuana in Hood River and ship it to Florida.

“The convergence of guns, drugs and violence with illicit cash are a threat to our community,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon, Renn Cannon.

“We are working aggressively with our law enforcement partners to address these threats.”

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All six defendants are charged with conspiring to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana, and to maintaining drug-involved premises. Other charges include manufacturing and distributing marijuana, money laundering, interfering with commerce by threats and violence, kidnapping, using a firearm during a crime of violence and drug trafficking crime, and felon in possession of a firearm.

File photo of marijuana by aastock/Shutterstock.com; photo of Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy Williams via USDOJ

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